Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Kubo and the Two Strings” which originally appeared here.
Young Kubo’s (Art Parkinson) peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to unlock a secret legacy. Armed with a magical instrument, Kubo must battle the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and other gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.
In a year full of superhero films, sequels, and/or reboots, it’s definitely nice to see something original every once in awhile. It’s also becoming more and more rare to find a stop motion animated film with the last being The Little Prince from earlier this year. Now we get a little bit of both here with Kubo and the Two Strings. The story is about a boy named Kubo (Parkinson) along with a monkey (Theron) and a beetle (McConaughey) (don’t worry, it makes sense) must come together to find a secret set of armor in order to protect himself from evil forces from his family’s past.
Early on we meet Kubo’s mother under some difficult consequences, alluding to a mysterious past. This opening sequence featured an amazing animation sequence where she splits a wave in half (which you may have seen in one of the trailers). Here we also meet Kubo for the first time where we see him tell stories along with his magical instrument and some origami characters which come to life. The film didn’t waste too much time after this as Kubo must escape the evil forces in which he summoned.
Very quickly he meets a monkey named Monkey who was brought to life from a charm by his mother. Monkey was there to protect and mentor Kubo. Being a kid after all, Kubo and Monkey don’t necessarily get along at first but grew closer as the film progressed. They were fun to watch together because of their great, funny exchanges. Because of the great dialogue, it was easy to forget that it was a boy talking to a monkey.
This continued when Kubo and Monkey met Beetle, a former samurai who can’t seem to remember his past. While the Kubo and Monkey exchanges were great and funny, the inclusion of Beetle made it better. He was the comic relief of the trio with great moments involving him trying to remember his past glory. Most of his funniest lines are in the trailers but they still worked here which allowed Beetle to steal a lot of scenes because of the dialogue and McConaughey’s delivery.
The story was fun and the characters were fun to watch but it may confuse some and it sometimes isn’t clear what is happening and is also sometimes lost. Seeing that this is a children’s film, expect some major themes. This one deals with the importance of family which didn’t come as much of a surprise. The film also deals with the topics of rebirth and reincarnation through its use of storytelling with the big thing being that the end of one story is just the start of a new one.
What more can be said of the animation here? It was just imaginative and looked great with lots of detail in the character animations as well in the many environments. It made you feel like you were in the world. A lot of work was put in by the animators and it showed. The best examples of this was with the fur on Monkey and all of Kubo’s origami creations. The difference between this film and other animated films was that instead of being told a story, we were part of it.
If the film was voiced by anyone other than Theron and McConaughey, it probably wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. They were great and just made the story better. Theron just has a commanding voice and her motherly nature added warmth to Monkey which added to her scenes with Kubo. McConaughey was great here and again, his delivery made the character of Beetle. Parkinson was great here since he wasn’t annoying and brought charm and charisma to the role of Kubo.
Overall, this was a very imaginative film whose visuals should be commended and also features some great vocal performances despite the slightly muddled story.