Review: Kubo And The Two Strings Is Heartwarming, Heartbreaking And Beautiful
Title: Kubo and the Two Strings
Director: Travis Knight
Screenwriter: Marc Haimes (screenplay and story by), Chris Butler (screenplay), and Shannon Tindle (story by)
Principal Cast: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, and Matthew McConaughey
Summary: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.
There are certain studios where you know you can go into any of their productions and it’s at least going to be good. Pixar is usually a sure thing and even the movies that people tend to dislike are a lot better than some of the other kids movies that come out. Marvel Studios hasn’t made a truly bad movie with even the worst one (it’s Iron Man 2) still having some great moments. I’ve had a feeling that Laika was going to be another studio with a consistent track record but I felt like we needed to see a few more movies by them before we declare them one of the greats. Coraline, ParaNorman, and Boxtrolls are all fantastic movies that I have loved so I went into Kubo and the Two Strings with high expectations.
Kubo and the Two Strings proves that Laika is one of the great studios working today because this is not only the best animated movie of the year, it will probably end up as one of the best movies of the year.
I think one of the things that makes Laika, and by extension its movies, so good is that they understand that children are not dumbed down, smaller versions of adults. Children have a unique and different way of looking at the world but it doesn’t make them dumb, and Laika seems to not only understand that mindset they really seem to respect it. Their movies are often PG instead of G as they push the boundaries of what it is okay to show in a kids movie. The final reveals in Kubo and the Two Strings are dark in the same way ParaNorman’s was as well. The story is simple but takes it in interesting places but remains conventional enough that we can get caught up in this amazing world.
This is a movie that truly defines the word ‘beautiful’. All of the sets, the characters, everything is so lovingly created that you could freeze the movie at any time, frame it and put it on a wall. The worldbuilding is fascinating with all of the details in the animation making everything come to life. The writer’s decided it was best to focus on the world, the characters and their relationships instead of crafting a mind bending story. It is basically a “fetch quest” where Kubo must collect three magical items to defeat the bad guy. It’s a tale as old as time but where Kubo and the Two Strings shines is adapting that to a beautiful world that you fall in love with instantly.
If there is a criticism of this movie is that it might be a little scary for kids under five. There is a great moment involving a giant skeleton that I heard a little girl in my screening say was scary. However, this seems to be a staple of Laika movies because of that respect. They understand that the world is scary sometimes but you need to make sure you see through it the best you can. The ending broke my heart and I left with my makeup all over my face. I’ve been told (by Kyle) that one of the ways kids look at the world differently is that they want to leave when a movie is sad because they are afraid it will stay sad. I could feel the kids getting restless when things got truly dark but it ends with a sad smile and a truly haunting cover of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ by Regina Spektor.
Kubo and the Two Strings is probably going to join ParaNorman as one of those movies I can’t shut up about. It deserves every inch of praise it is getting, and while I loved Finding Dory and Moama looks fantastic this will likely end up the best animated movie of the year and deserves all of the awards next year.