Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Travis Knight, George Takei, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara
Directed by: Travis Knight
Written by: Marc Haimes (screenplay), Chris Butler (screenplay)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Any movie released from Laika Entertainment deserves attention. Despite dueling reviews between critics and fans for the likes of Coraline, ParaNorman, or The Boxtrolls, I think we can all agree that the creative teams behind these films bring real art back to filmmaking and never fail at treating us to something special in one form or another.
As the popcorn blockbusters fade into the Summer sunset, Travis Knight, visionary animator and CEO of Laika Entertainment, takes the role of Director for Kubo and the Two Strings. With any luck, Knight’s appetite for directing will only grow so we can delight for many more films like this for years to come.
Beautifully animated in all the magical charm that is the dying art of stop motion, Kubo and the Two Strings tells the story of a magical young boy living near a shoreside Japanese village with his troubled mother, who still lives in the trauma of losing her husband (and nearly her son) to her father, the evil Moon King (Ralph Fiennes). Kubo (Art Parkinson) spends his days using his special powers to entertain the villagers with heroic stories of his late father Kubo has pieced together from his mother. At night, the two hide from the moon lest Kubo’s grandfather and twin aunts (both played by Rooney Mara) descend from the heavens and snatch him for their own.
The adventure begins when Kubo stays out a little too late one night and finds himself on the run from the Moon King. Kubo’s mother uses the last of her magic to give her son protection in the form of a monkey (Charlize Theron), and sends him on his way to find the sacred armor that will help him defeat his grandfather. On the way, Kubo and Monkey befriend Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a cursed, but kind hearted samurai who can’t recall any of his former life. These three unusual characters hurl us through an exciting and artistically driven tale that will keep children and adults alike entranced until the very end.
Kubo and the Two Strings is refreshing in many ways. Besides the stunning animation crafted by artists who still believe in putting time into movie production, the story holds nothing back. Told as if out of a book of ancient Japanese folklore, the film splices in just enough humor and childlike elements to keep things from getting too heavy. That said, there are some very harsh and touching lessons to be learned that will make audiences run the emotional gauntlet of tears and smiles.
Everyone has something to gain from seeing Kubo and the Two Strings. It is so much more than just a poster with a kid, a monkey and a samurai bug. It’s important to go see this movie in order to ensure that others like it keep getting made. This is a masterfully crafted piece of entertainment that easily ranks as one of the best films of the year. Effortless in its delivery of quality, Kubo and the Two Strings is sure to make you glow from the inside out, possessing an energy shows sometimes the brightest lights do shine from the deepest, darkest cracks.