Kubo and the Two Strings - Screen Fantastique film review
Kubo and the Two Strings is a magical movie experience in both the literal and figurative sense. Described as a Stop-motion animation adventure about Samurai, Kubo is a film that the whole family can see and get something from it. For the kids, there’s the obvious appeal of young Kubo (Art Parkinson) and his magical storytelling skills that bring to life sheet after sheet of paper in the most elaborate origami creations that have a life of their own. For parents, Kubo is a little deeper, as Director Travis Knight and the crew at Stop-motion specialists Liaka, explore the theme of sacrifice and how far Mothers and Fathers are prepared to go in order to protect their children. Kubo is wonderful all round entertainment and offers something very different to the broader CG animated feature films audiences are used to seeing released these days.
Kubo features a number of elaborate set-pieces including its opening prologue, introducing an infant Kubo and his Mother (voiced by Charlize Atherton), who are fleeing an unseen assailant on a small skiff. The baby Kubo is missing his left eye, an injury inflicted upon him by his evil Grandfather, Moon King, a magical God who needs both of the infant’s eyes to see all that is happening on Earth. Mother and son are thrown into the ocean but end up on land soon after. Kubo’s Mother sustains a head injury that renders her unable to access many of her memories. Several years pass and Kubo grows into a reliable young boy who's become his Mother’s carer and provides for them both with elaborate storytelling sessions in the village that sits at the base of the mountain hideaway. It's a credit, for such a young man, that Art Parkinson’s vocal performance is so strong. He owns Kubo completely and he fills the opening sequences of the movie with great enthusiasm as he recounts the story of the great warrior - Hanso - to the villagers.
The film kicks into high gear when the young man fails to return to the mountain and his Mother as darkness falls one evening. Stranded away from his magic-protected home, Kubo’s two aunties reveal themselves and declare that they have become on behalf of Moon King to claim his other eye. The young boy races as fast as he can but only makes it as far as the base of the mountain before he is caught. Fortunately, Kubo’s Mother has made her way off the mountain and is able to deter her siblings from pursuing her son. She blasts her sisters with magic that results in Kubo being transported far away, waking up in the presence of Monkey, a small wooden idol who has been transformed into a real-life creature created by Kubo’s Mother’s powerful magic. The pair set off upon a journey to locate three items that will give whoever possesses them power over both The magical and the real world. The quest sees them joined by a cockroach-looking warrior Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), who claims to have served Kubo's Samurai father, while the trio are guided on their journey by an origami version of Hanso.
Not only is Kubo well written, well acted and well produced, it is a highly imaginative movie that seeks to tell its story by way of astounding visuals. Even more impressive is the Stop-motion animation process used to create the film. The character’s actions are so smooth that it's hard to believe, despite all the videos available documenting the film's making, that it’s not CG. Kubo and the Two Strings is definitely worth a trip to the cinema to see and highly recommended that viewers invest the additional few dollars to see the film in 3D.
Kubo and the Two Strings is out in cinemas on August 18, 2016.