Monday, August 29, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings is easily one of the best and most visually beautiful animated films I have seen. It is an amazing blend of mostly stop motion animation and some cgi. Laika, the production company behind Kubo, has been steadily building it's resume and skill level at what seems like the almost lost art of stop motion. The first Laika film I saw was Paranorman, a kids supernatural comedy. Their next film, The Boxtrolls was a also a  family friendly fantasy adventure that got a little dark at times, but was mostly light and comedic. I enjoyed it a lot. Their other projects include Coraline and doing the animation for Tim Burton's, The Corpse Bride. With Kubo and the Two Strings, they go much further into the fantasy adventure territory. And while technically a family film, it's rated PG, it gets dark. There are funny moments, but this coming of age tale will pull at your heart strings. I'm trying REALLY hard not to give any spoilers.

Kubo lives with his mother in a cave overlooking the ocean. His mother suffers from memory loss and will occasionally become lucid enough to be her normal self and tell Kubo tales about his father, a Samurai. But mostly she remains catatonic, staring off into the ocean. Kubo does his best to take care of her and makes some money at the nearby village by making origami creature come to life as he tells stories. He is only supposed to be out only during daylight because his grandfather, the Moon King can see everything at night and wants to find Kubo and take his other eye. The Moon King succeeded in taking one of Kubo's eyes when Kubo was a baby, which is why his mother ran away with Kubo and hid in a cave.

The story really begins to kick in when Kubo fails to make it home before nightfall and is met with his aunts, his mother's sisters, who wish to take Kubo to the Moon King. Kubo's only hope is to find three pieces of ancient armor that can defeat the Moon King. His mother sends him on a quest to find the armor with a talking monkey that she brought to life from a charm. Kubo and Monkey are joined by Beetle, a former samurai who served Kubo's father but was cursed to live as a man/beetle monster by Kubo's aunts.

Laika really ups their game with Kubo and the Two Strings. As I stated earlier, it is a visually beautiful and stunning film. You almost want to believe it is all cgi, but the stop motion characters are that well done. If not for the movie posters you might even forget the star voice cast which includes Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, and Ralph Finnes.  Kubo at the very least should receive a Best Animated Feature nomination at this year's Academy Awards and I think it should win. Not only is the animation incredible, but the character designs are amazing. You should really go see this film. I can't wait to see what Liaka produces next.

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