By Zachary Flint (Kent, Ohio)
Kubo and the Two Strings manages to submerge the audience into a magnificent world that is full of magic and rich with lore. Kubo is an adventurous, stop motion animated film that has dazzled both audiences and critics with its breathtaking visuals.
Kubo and the Two Strings takes place in what appears to be ancient Japan. Where a young boy with an eye-patch named Kubo (Art Parkinson) lives in hiding with his ill mother from resentful spirits. However when the spirits return to take Kubo’s second eye, he must leave his home and find his father’s long lost suit of magical armor. With the armor, Kubo will be power enough to defeat the evil spirits and return peace to his world. Along his journey, Kubo has the help of Monkey (Charlize Theron), a talisman that is brought to life to protect him from the spirits. Kubo also enlists in the help of Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a cursed samurai with a bad memory but good heart. Together they must find the armor and defeat the spirits, including their leader, Kubo’s grandfather (Ralph Fiennes).
Kubo, Monkey, and Beetle are a great team and their personalities are always clashing, resulting in many funny as well as touching moments. The best part of the entire film is the second act, where they’re all on their adventure together.
The stop motion animation is brilliantly executed and compliments the style of storytelling very well. Enough so that I don’t believe the story of Kubo could have been told any other way. The way the characters interact and show emotion is very in depth, more so than many live action films with real actors. Each facial expression shown by Kubo perfectly imitates real expressions people make. You can tell when the characters in Kubo are upset, happy, excited, and worried, just from looking at them, which is pretty amazing.
The lore of Kubo and the Two Strings is vast, and engulfs the viewer in a world entirely its own. Kubo himself has magical powers he can use, and with the strumming of his Shamisen he can control origami creatures and samurais. The mythical landscapes in the film will fill audience members with wonder and amazement.
The nicely choreographed action scenes in Kubo are a lot of fun to watch. They are fast paced, very creative, and keep the audience engaged in what is happening.
The main problem with Kubo is that some plot points are very vaguely explained and hammered out. I found myself especially confused on multiple occasions with the motivation of the evil spirits. The film attempts to explain it and justify the evilness of the spirits on multiple times, but each is more confusing than the last. This is very forgivable though, and doesn’t detract from how awesome everything else in the film is.
I believe Kubo to be one of the best stop motion films I have ever seen. From its well-developed and likeable characters, bold choices, and its well-paced story, Kubo is a two thumbs up animated spectacle that the whole family can enjoy.