September 2, 2016 by bck1402
Directed by Travis Knight
It is so rare when a proper and original fairy tale hits our big screens, and to do so in such a lush and captivating presentation such as traditional stop-motion animation makes it all the more enchanting.
Granted there are some judicious uses of CG effects in play, but the majority of the presentation is in stop-motion animation, where models and ‘puppets’ are moved a fraction at a time and photographed, one frame at a time. It is a time-consuming form of animation, but the results are truly magical. And Kubo delivers some of the most fluid and gorgeous stop-motion animation in a long while. Animation studio Laika has only gone from strength to strength, giving us movies that are not only kid-friendly, but gems for the whole family as well. As with ParaNorman and Coraline before, Kubo is not afraid to go to the dark places that could potentially haunt children, but it also gives their heroes the strength to stand tall and be brave.
Throughout the movie, Kubo (Art Parkinson) is chased by “The Sisters” (Rooney Mara pulling double duty, see above) doing the bidding of their father, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes), and in order to face them, Kubo needs to find a three parts of a special armour, and his journey is naturally fraught with dangers a 10-year old should not be facing alone, even if he has the ability to manipulate paper objects or origami elements to do his bidding. Aiding him is an enchanted yet motherly Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a cursed warrior Beetle (Matthew McConaughey).
While there is action and adventure, it’s the human side of things that makes the movie truly special, emphasising the importance of memory, family and compassion of the human spirit; to see the world as something truly magical and amazing. It doesn’t hurt that the amazing artists at Laika have given us a spectacularly splendrous and visually striking world filled with amazing vistas, strange locations and unusual creatures to boot. The Japanese aesthetics in the design lends an air of mysticism and wonder, and while the stars deliver amazing dialogue throughout, I can’t help but wonder what a Japanese dub would be like.
The details in design and storytelling show how much work and effort went into making this movie (just check out the time-lapse behind the scene bit in the end-credits). Kubo and the Two Strings is one for the ages, highly entertaining and a genuine must-see.
One of the best movies of this year.
To say more would be pointless.
Rating: ****1/2 / 5
Animating the opening scene-