Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) Review

Rating: A

In his first directorial debut, Travis Knight shows how you should make a stop-motion animated movie look like. Proving to be both funny and serious, the movie withholds something for both kids and adults alike. Being Laika studio’s fourth full length stop-motion animated movie, Kubo and the Two Strings sets a completely new standard for what a stop-motion animated movie should look like. Seeing the end result I can say that this, without a doubt, is the best looking stop-motion movie I have ever seen.

Kind-hearted Kubo (Art Parkinson) lives in a small quiet village, telling extraordinary stories to the people at the seaside town. But his humble living is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which threatens his life with an age-old vendetta. Being on the run, Kubo meets two interesting characters – Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey). They all set out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, who once was the world’s greatest samurai. With the help of his magical music instrument (shamisen), Kubo must battle through the quest against the vengeful Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Rooney Mara), to uncover the secret of his legacy, reunite his family and claim his destiny.

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Even though the story is a basic quest-adventure, it still had its originality and creativity within it. The authors of the story, Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes, were on top of their game with creating such a creative and original world that is rich with soulful characters. We can’t also forget Travis Knight who did a wonderful job in balancing the movie between funny and scary moments. Come to think of it – the movie might have been actually more for adults than kids, but who knows.

Being fully made with practical effects, the movie looks AMAZING and I’m not exaggerating, I can say it again if you want – it was AMAZING! As a stop-motion animated movie, all throughout the movie we get so many beautiful scenes and characters that are so rich that without the knowledge of this movie being stop-motion, I doubt you would ever be able to tell that all this was made by hands (see the behind the scenes video). I’m going to be bold here – I think that Kubo and the Two Strings will go down in history as one of the best looking stop-motion movies ever created! Studio LAIKA really did their best and made a stunning work of art.

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For me animated movies are much better if you have an ensemble of really talented actors and in Kubo and the Two Strings we get it. Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey (his first animated movie), Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara bring so much more than their voices to this movie. Not just reading their lines, the cast brings soul to the characters. Right from the get-go you will root for the characters and feel for them when something threatening happens. With lot of praising going to the cast, my advice is – if you are planning to watch this movie in your local cinema, try to aim for the original language version, because I know that a lot of non-English countries (mine included) like to over-voice animated movies and after that they just lose their touch. In my opinion – without this kind of cast the movie would have felt less emotional. So try to see the movie in the original language.

Kubo and the Two Strings is proof that stop-motion is not dead and will live on. It might take a long while to make them, but result you get at the end – unbelievable work of art. It is a fun movie for adults and kids. While watching the movie, you will be drawn in the world of Kubo and you will have the time of your life, trust me.

Running time: 102 minutes; Production companies: Laika; Distributed by: Focus Features; Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family;

Directed by: Travis Knight; Produced by: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner; Screenplay by: Marc Haimes, Chris Butler; Story by: Marc Haimes, Shannon Tindle; Music: Dario Marianelli; Edited by: Christopher Murrie; Budget: $60 million;

Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, and many more.

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