If you are going to blink… do it now…
After a life of peace and tranquility with his mother is brought to an abrupt end, Kubo must use his newly found and burgeoning magic to locate his late father’s magical sword and armor in order to defeat the vengeful Moon King.
Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautiful piece of art and poetry in motion. The time and effort that goes into stop motion always astonishes me, but this movie has everything from sword fights between a witch and a monkey atop a boat made of leaves while in the midst of a lake In the pouring down rain to a huge beetle launching arrows at a gigantic skeleton with flaming eyes. The care that went into all the moving pieces will make everyone gasp in astonishment. It is truly amazing what can be done when you have an absurd amount of patience.
That all being said, sometimes people confuse amazing visuals for an amazing story, excusing a sloppy or “meh” story because the eye visual aesthetics are on key. Kubo is not one of those instances.
Directorial newbie Travis Knight does a fantastic job with this film. There is such heart and care in these characters that you forget that you are watching are puppets as you feel the emotion coming through the screen. While Charlize Theron does a fine job as Monkey, it’s Art Parkinson (Rick on Game of Thrones) and Matthew McConaughey who steal the show with their stellar voice work. Art does a fantastic job with lines that could easily have come across as cheesy or cliché, making them feel heartfelt. McConaughey, while jarring at first, does a splendid job of making you care for Beetle. Rooney Mara also satisfies, leaving Ralph Fiennes, as the voice of the Moon King, as the only real misstep in regard to casting.
The story could have relied on a “tried and true” trope that would have made it feel like your typical animated fare, but Kubo feels original and organic. It’s a beautiful story, filled with both heart and humor, representing a breathe of fresh air amongst the hoopla of comic book adaptations.
I would highly recommend catching this one on the big screen. It worth the time and money as you are allowed to witness a beautiful story come to life before your eyes.