For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ check out the video below. Read on for our mini-review!
Blending magic and music, adventure and drama, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ has emerged from the gates as a frontrunner for our favorite animated movie of the year, and a likely candidate for our ‘Best of 2016’ lists. Make no mistake; this film is exquisite, and if you take nothing else away from this review, let it be that you should absolutely see this movie in theaters as soon as humanly possible. The fourth film by stop-motion animation studio Laika, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ follows a young boy and a pair of unconventional companions (Monkey and Beetle) as they track down the magic weapons and armor needed to defeat Kubo’s evil grandfather, the Moon King.
From a purely technical standpoint, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is a marvel, boasting several staggering statistics. For example, this film now holds the record for the longest stop motion film to date, and features the largest stop motion puppet ever made, a skeleton over 16 feet tall and weighing 400lbs. Kubo himself had a total of 48 million possible facial expressions. Each scene features stunning attention to detail, things like individually animated strands of hair or cloaks which whip realistically in the wind. It is a beautiful film, featuring scene after picturesque scene, each more awe-inspiring than the last.
However, this film is so much more than just a Laika tech demo. The story and the characters found in ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ are rich and vibrant, always interesting, always engaging. Each beat of the adventure is satisfying, and even plot elements which might be a bit more predictable lose nothing for sleuths who ‘figure it out’ before the film’s climax. Kubo himself is a complex blend of realistic and fantastic traits; he is young and brash, questioning, yet thoughtful, featuring hidden strength, resolve, and magical prowess. Further, each of these traits build on one another, creating a fully realized character who suffers no characterization inconsistencies. Astute fans of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ may recognize Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark) as the spot-on voice actor for Kubo.
The supporting cast delivers as well, with Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey absorbing the bulk of the screen time in their roles as Monkey and Beetle, respectively. Rooney Mara is a standout, playing the roles of a pair of sisters hell-bent on tracking down and stopping Kubo. Even the villagers, who might be more disposable in another animated film, have distinct personalities, rich traditions, and weight within the story.
This is perhaps one of the most glowing reviews we’ve written, and this is by design; ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ does not have the same marketing reach as Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks, but it stands toe-to-toe with the best films offered by those studios and deserves to be seen. Catch this remarkable film in theaters soon; you won’t regret it.
Written by William Lindus, Movie Bears Podcast