Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

Movie Name: Kubo and the Two Strings
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Travis Knight
Stars: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei, Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Meyrick Murphy, Laura Miro, Alpha Takahashi, Minae Noji
Genre: Animation, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9
Watch the Trailer

Animation studio Laika, has now produced and released a string of films that are nothing short of fantastic. Among their finest releases are Henry Sellick's "Coraline", Chris Butler and Sam Fell's "Paranorman" and now Travis Knight's "Kubo and the Two Strings". The film follows the story of Kubo, a young boy who's protected by his mother, and who goes to a small town close to the mountain where they live, to narrate heroic stories, using his magical skills to bring origami to life. Kubo is never allowed to stay out past sundown. One evening he accidentally is held up, and finally discovers why his mom has always told him to come back home before night settles in. He is being pursued by his grandfather and evil aunts who want to take his eye. Kubo with the help of a few friends, sets out to find out more about himself and how he can survive the attack of his powerful foes.
Laika's films have become, much like Pixar's, synonyms with stunning animation, beautifully executed, with plots that are usually anchored in the meaning of family, and more generally with characters who come to terms with who they are and their own sense of belonging in the world. "Kubo and the Two Strings" is a fantastic achievement, in the sense that it successfully creates a magical world, filled with stories within stories, with a young hero that is looking for his own roots and family history, coming across multiple obstacles, while being helped by a group of unexpected friends, who turns out to be a different type of family. It's a film that has heart, intelligence, and is aesthetically stunning, with fantastic character design, and transitions between frames that are simply beautiful. It's a film that though anchored in a specific culture, manages to transcend it, and amplify its message of family, love and compassion across the board, without feeling overtly manipulative or simplistic. A beautifully realized film worth watching.