Kubo and the Two Strings (Kubo) has been on my radar ever since I recently saw and reviewed the film Coraline created by Laika. The film was directed by Travis Knight and includes big name actors Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey.
Similar to Coraline, Kubo is a stop-motion animation film. This means that the characters in the film are physical objects like puppets that are manipulated one picture at a time. The trivia on the movie stated that 145,000 images were taken to create this 1 hour and 41 minute film. That’s absolutely insane to me, and incredible to say the least.
The story is about Kubo, a one-eyed young boy living in a small village in Japan with his mother. Kubo entertains the locals with his enthralling storytelling ability using his art of orgami with his magical guitar. The story is about his father Hanzo, a fierce samurai warrior.
He lives a normal life taking care of his aging mother who protects him from the Sariatu Sisters and the Moon King (her two sisters and Kubo’s grand father) who come out at night seeking to find and take Kubo’s remaining eye. Until one night, Kubo stays out too late exposing him to the dangers his mother was trying to protect him from. Forcing Kubo to set out on a journey meeting new characters along his way, hoping to find his father’s magical armor that will protect him from his family’s evil vendetta against him.
Kubo often had me literally mumbling “wow” and giggling to myself in awe as I watched the film. From it’s awesome action-packed combat scenes to it’s beautiful landscapes. I’m also a sucker for magic and how the characters use it to manipulate reality. This sparks my imagination and creativity allowing all viewers to imagine what they would do if they were in Kubo’s situation.
I couldn’t tell what was more captivating, the individual personalities of the characters or the journey the story takes us on. Whether it’s the humor between Beetle and Monkey, the childlike mannerisms of Kubo rebelling, or the fearful evil sisters, each character has their own unique aspect to bring to the story. The plot is an action-packed yet emotional adventure including samurai fight scenes and magical domination. There are many scenes that have as much humor as there is an emotional connection to help balance the seriousness.
It’s one of those films that has a character that each of us can relate to. Whether it’s Kubo a young boy who still has his childhood innocence, yet his stubborn curiosity brings us back to how we viewed and experienced life at his age. Kubo’s mother is a protector and would fight monsters, Gods, and even her own sisters, if they threatened to harm her son. Beetle’s old life lingers with him, it was who he once was, but he’s on a quest searching for a new meaning in life.
Visually it’s “one of those movies you turn your phone off for”. If you look away you might miss something. So to close out this review I’m going to leave it to my friend Kubo “If you must blink…do it now.”
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