Tony's Take

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS review

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Laika’s latest animated-offering, “Kubo and the Two Strings”, opens with a voiceover telling us all to pay very close attention.  A young woman and her child in ancient Japan are traveling through a vicious storm, until a wave crashes sending them both ashore.  Some years later, Kubo (the child on the boat) spends his days taking care of his catatonic mother and playing a magical three-string guitar, which causes his paper to fold and take the shape of warriors, monsters, and other objects.  He used them to tell great stories and legends to the people of his town, as they were amazed.  However, he must return home before dark, in-order to stay hidden from his evil Grandfather, the Moon King and his aunts who do his evil bidding.  Unfortunately, one day he ends-up out in the moonlight and his aunts come down to capture him; just barely escaping due to his mother’s sacrifice, his only hope is to find the magical suit of armor from his stories that was worn by his father (a legendary Samurai Warrior) and defeat the Moon King.

Charlize Theron voices the helpful and protective Monkey, who is in-charge of keeping Kubo safe during his quest.  Art Parkinson voices Kubo, the young one-eyed child who must defeat his Grandfather, the Moon King.  Matthew McConaughey voices a Beetle warrior, who believes he was once a great warrior and his master was Kubo’s father, Hanzo.  Ralph Fiennes voices Raiden the Moon King, Kubo’s evil Grandfather.  Rooney Mara voices Kubo’s aunts, known as the Sisters.  George Takei voices a man named Hosato.  Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa voices an old man from Kubo’s town, Akihiro.  Brenda Vaccaro voices an old woman named Kameyo.

Laika Animation (“Coraline”, “ParaNorman”, and “The Boxtrolls”) has a decently-strong catalog of titles, but “Kubo and the Two Strings” is their finest project yet, with a story full of depth, memorable characters, and beautiful animation.  The film’s greatest success is its story; a story full of Japanese beliefs and customs, fun side-stories, and plenty of heart and emotion filled-throughout.  While Kubo tells his stories, you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what happens next as he strums his three strings.  Another strong aspect of the film is the voice cast.  While small, the trio of Theron, Parkinson, and McConaughey carry the majority of the film, with Theron and McConaughey injecting plenty of (opposing) humor and plenty of entertainment.  “Kubo and the Two Strings” has excellent stop-motion animation as well, with jaw-dropping visuals and landscapes, it truly is unbelievable what they can do with animation today!  Make sure to stay during the credits as they show how they filmed one particular scene (which is really cool!).  As with Laika’s other titles, “Kubo and the Two Strings” has a dark tone to the film as well.  Travis Knight should be applauded for what he’s done with Laika; but if their films continue to get better and better, it’s only a matter of time until Laika becomes a household name.  “Kubo and the Two Strings” has a run time of 101 minutes and with magic and emotion, has you fully-entertained throughout.  While I have enjoyed all of Laika’s offerings, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is easily my favorite and I think it’s their most well-rounded film yet!

“Kubo and the Two Strings” follows a young boy as he must live the legend that he has been telling people for entertainment.  The film feature beautiful stop-motion animation, a story full of depth and magic, and a great voice cast.  If you are bringing the kids to the movies this weekend, go see “Kubo and the Two Strings”!!

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KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is rated PG for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril, in theaters AUGUST 19TH!

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