In Ancient Japan, an eyepatch-wearing young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) cares for his sick mother in a village. A spirit from the past turns Kubo’s life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo. In order to survive, Kubo must locate a magical suit of armour once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior. He also gains some allies in a Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a Beetle (Matthew McConaughey).
‘Kubo & the Two Strings’ is definitely a stop-motion masterpiece for Laika. Stunning scene after stunning scene after stunning scene. There was a shot of a bowl of rice sitting in front of a fire which actually made me gasp a tiny bit because of how gorgeous it looked! However, the animation has almost become a little ‘too good’, in the sense that I completely forgot I wasn’t watching a standard 3D animated film. If you watch through the credits you’ll see a little bit of the behind-the-scenes magic that made this style of animation possible and be reminded of the crazy amount of work that has gone into it!
The characters were all awesome and extra impressive for an original story. You can’t help but love Kubo. He’s so serious and noble in the way he cares for his mother but still animated and as full of a child’s imagination as you’d expect from a young boy. Charlize Theron, as the monkey, was probably one of the best performances. Switching between pretty gruff and genuinely compassionate at the drop of a hat, she grows on you pretty quickly! Matthew McConaughey as the beetle is portrayed as ‘the funny guy’, although most of his jokes fall pretty flat. I feel like he’s mostly there as a guaranteed kid pleaser, but otherwise doesn’t have loads to offer. Kubo’s mega-scary Aunts are awesome voiced by Rooney Mara and boy are they creepy! Probably my favourite characters in the whole thing! They are just so delightfully evil looking and spooky sounding.
The plot unfortunately did let the overall film down. It started off strong with fascinating characters and many mysteries to uncover…but the explanations uncovered along the way were weak/confusing at times and a few of the major plot points were a little contrived. Luckily the characters and animations are more than enough to carry this one!
It’s an amazing film that you need to experience on the big screen ASAP. Definitely one for the whole family, although you need to be prepared to explain some of the sad stuff and expect a few scary scenes which may be a little too much for the younger kids. You’ll laugh, get chills and maybe even tear up a little (not saying I did or anything).