Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

5:18 PM

The Quest Begins
 Kubo and the Two Strings is the directorial debut from Travis Knight and features the voices of Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus), Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold, San Andreas), Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter, The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Rooney Mara (Carol, Pan). "A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past". Laika are consistently critically successful but not commercially, is Kubo a hidden gem of 2016?

 Wow! What a surprise this film was...I really liked Kubo and The Two Strings. I didn't really have any expectations set by myself but I knew it had received critical acclaim. Laika are a studio that always produces solid films so I should of been excited for this flick - I thought Coraline was an extremely effective film but I wasn't as keen on Paranorman. However, Kubo is the best Laika film I have seen - I can definitely tell that Laika have a thing with eyes though - they are a big part of Coraline and also a big part of Kubo. Like me, if you aren't too bothered on seeing Kubo - I really think you should because it is a fabulous animated film with some sophisticated themes and a great voice cast. 

The animation is definitely the standout for Kubo and the Two Strings. Similarly to how I despise found footage in horror films, I usually do not get on with stop motion animation. However, the stop motion in Kubo and the Two Strings is that good, it doesn't look like a stop motion film at all - it looks as good as a fully animated flick. Laika do some things in Kubo that do not seem possible with stop motion but they pull it off - the animation is flawless! 

Another impressive thing about Kubo and the Two Strings is the voice cast who do a really good job! Charlize Theron is fantastic as Monkey and puts another great performance under her belt. Theron helps to make the character sassy, funny, relatable and emotional - she really does an excellent job. Art Parkinson joins the group of young actors in 2016 who really have made a great name for child actors - another fantastic performance! Parkinson isn't annoying and makes the character of Kubo come across very likeable. Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara all also do great jobs in their roles respectably. Despite the voice cast all doing excellent jobs, there is one problem...this film is about characters of an Asian origin- Asian culture is also a big theme within the film. This is white-washing and I do wish Laika would have gave these roles to actors and actresses of the correct ethnicity but it is also a shame to say that since the actors and actresses cast do such a great job. 

Admittedly, the narrative for Kubo and the Two Strings is a little hard to follow at times - especially for a film that is aimed at the younger audience (since watching, I would say it isn't). The story isn't the most generic - its basically just a quest to stop the villain. However, Kubo and the Two Strings is much more sophisticated in comparison to your usual generic 'quest' plot - there are many themes throughout that are consistent and extremely deep for a children's film. One of these themes is the acceptance of death - not only does Kubo have to lose those close to him throughout the film, the end goal of the quest ends up to be ultimately about death. SPOILERS - One scene that did stand out to me was the scene where Kubo's mother (who has now been revealed as Monkey) and they discuss how one day she won't be with her son and the characters with her say that she will live on through Kubo in his memories - I thought this moment was really special as it provided a silver lining to death which is obviously a very grim subject. Laika are not afraid to talk about such subjects in detail. Kubo and the Two Strings also has some pretty scary scenes that make it inappropriate for young audiences. The aunties are very scary characters and the whole concept with wanting Kubo's eye is creepy (what is it with Laika and eyes!?). However, as the overall tone of Kubo is pretty dark, these elements fit in and are effective. 

Kubo and the Two Strings is a truly excellent animated film - it is very close to being flawless. White-washing is something I do not support and unfortunately Kubo could be interpreted as having white-washed characters. However, Theron does an excellent job as Monkey and manages to effectively execute one of the films best moments. The rest of the cast also do a solid job. The animation is beautiful and I am amazed how all of this was done with stop-motion. Kubo and the Two Strings was a very pleasant surprise as it really is an exceptional little movie. 


What did you think of KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS? What is your favourite Laika film? - COMMENT BELOW

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  1. I loved Kubo,got so immersed in it I cried my eyes out. I don't agree with the white-washing comment, this an easy and great way to spread more Asian stories. Unfortunately using Hollywood celebrities is the only way to bring attention to anything these days.