Laika Entertainment has proven they are some of the best at stop motion animation with title like Coralline, but with Kubo and the Two Strings they have not only continued to be top of the game, but also outdo their own work.
Kubo and the Two strings follows the story of a young boy who earns a living using a little magic from his Samisen, which is a two string Japanese guitar, to bring his origami creations to life and tell tales, which allows him to support himself and his comatose mother. Taking part in a ritual that allows people to speak to the dead, Kubo tries to communicate with his father but leaves disappointed. On his way home he is attacked by his Aunties when his mother saves the day and uses magic to get Kubo out of trouble. Upon waking Kubo finds himself with a monkey who wants to help him as they embark on a journey to learn more about Kubo’s family history as he tries to get home. Through their journey, they discover a beetle warrior man who joins their journey and brings in some more comic relief.
The plot is solid and it gets much better later on in the film, though at times the pacing was off. By that I mean I found times I would start to lose interest but then it would pull me back in, but those brief moments where I lost interest are really unfortunate because everything else is outstanding. It is really nice for them to bring such a unique story that feels like it should be based off some old Japanese lore or something, that is how well-crafted the plot is.
The voice acting is great. Charlize Theron is great as Monkey, Matthew McConaughey is fairly good as Beetle and Ralph Feignes is great as the films ultimate antagonist. Surprisingly the star of the show is Kubo’s voice actor, the young Art Parkinson. Art does an outstanding job as Kubo, to the point where I thought it was an adult acting a child, so I was surprised to find out it was a teen just excelling at the role.
The true star of the film is the animation. Claymation has been getting better over the years but I have never been as blown away as I was during Kubo and the Two Strings. Everything from character models, the way their hair moved, to the general world was absolutely stunning. Monkey was an especially well-designed character who absolutely popped in the Claymation style. I am not always the biggest fan of stop motion but when a team like Laika Entertainment are working on it, then a film like this is truly unique and better for it.
8/10 – Kubo and the Two Strings is a charming and unique story that is hard to fault. It’s beautiful animation hammers home its wonderful plot that is a must for anyone wanting something a little different. Some minor pacing dips aside it is an absolute must see for film fans everywhere.