Director: Travis Knight
Kubo and The Two Strings is the latest stop motion animation film from Laika Entertainment, the people who brought us the very entertaining Paranorman and The Boxtrolls, and probably scarred a lot of children for life with Coraline. Set vaguely in ancient China, the film tells the story of young Kubo who must leave his village on a perilous quest, along with a talking monkey, a small origami samurai, and a cursed warrior who has been transformed into a six foot beetle-warrior. It sounds quirky and offbeat (it is), and makes for a film in which Laika rises to a new height of filmmaking.
Nearly every aspect of this film is outstanding, and will hopefully do as much for adults as it does for kids. The animation is brilliant and imaginative. It is a deeply textured and beautifully lit world which is wonderful to get lost in, and has an evocative story woven in. This film actually teaches and engages, and more importantly asks for the audience’s imagination. After watching the visual upheaval that was Angry Birds earlier this year, it is refreshing to see a children’s film that is restrained and thoughtful, rather than a buffet of exploding colours, punchlines, and pop songs. The voice talent on display is also top notch, with Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey both trumping their previous performances in animated films.
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Most notable though is Art Parkinson (aka Rickon “should-have-zig-zagged” Stark—GoT fans will get what I mean here) as Kubo, who carries most of the narrative and emotional weight of the film. Overall this is a refreshing side-step from the usual animated fare, and warrants a lot more attention and admiration than it is getting. So if you’re tossing up between that Blake Lively shark movie, the godawful looking Ben Hur remake, and the Richie McCaw movie (which for some reason exists?), maybe check this one out instead.