Good day to you ladies and gents, time for another review I should have reviewed a while ago, I am of course talking about the latest Laika film; Kubo and the Two Strings. Annoyingly I saw this film opening day but didn’t have time to do the review because I had to go to a pre-wedding party and then the actual wedding in Leicester, and after a while work caught up with me and my fresh thought were lost. So I didn’t want to review this film without having seen it a second time, and so that’s why this review’s a month late. 😦 But with that out of the way I’m now ready to pass judgement!
So the story can be described as the following:
“The film tells the story about Kubo, who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits.”
This film tells a wonderful story that felt classic and familiar, yet unique and captivating especially for older audiences and those who are into Japanese mythology. There’s a sense of magic, fun and wonderment, but it was also mixed in with some darker/serious elements which gave this film an edge and a classic Disney kind of tone which made me happy. There’s also deep respect and admiration for the Japanese culture in the way in which the story, visuals and music come together. And as a fan of Japanese mythology and classic tales of grand adventures involving young heroes discovering their destiny this film spoke to me on every level. I also adored how this film had such a great deal of emotional moments whether they were dramatic, sad or funny. The only thing I would say that I was a little iffy on was the ending, while I understood the approach I would have preferred something a little different.
The cast was really good and did well to bring life to their characters with some of the actors feeling like they brought some of their mannerisms to their roles. Firstly there’s Art Parkinson who did really well as Kubo, this kid is a little delight as he was cocky, yet sweet, imaginative, resourceful and charming. Charlize Theron as Monkey was awesome, she was a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point badass who while tough kind have a soft side as well. I also loved Matthew McConaughey as Beetle/Hanzo, this guy was really funny because of his dim-witted, charismatic and courageous personality. Rooney Mara was unrecognisable as the Sisters, but I loved her performance as she was able to add such a level of intimidation and aggressiveness to these creepy/scary characters. Ralph Fiennes as Raiden the Moon King was very good too, the first time I really thought I could hear a bit of James Woods, but upon closer listening I could hear Fiennes in there and he was really good offering us a villain who was perceptive and dangerous. I also liked Brenda Vaccaro as Kameyo, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Hashi, and the lovely George Takei as Hosato who I recognised the moment I heard his character speak.
When it comes to the presentation it was fantastic, Laika always bring their A-game to their films and with each film they produce they go that one step beyond and produce the most insane material in the current stop motion landscape. Visually the film did well to blend the practical side of things with what I could only assume could only be clever uses of CGI. There was such large sense of scope, really great lighting and a diverse colour palette, add on top of that the brilliant art direction and some wonderfully creative imagery especially with the animated origami. Plus as a fan of action sequences involving sword fighting and other Japanese weaponry this film had some kick ass moments and didn’t shy away from the violence which I also loved. Oh and the film score from Dario Marianelli was fantastic capturing the sense of adventure, drama, tension and generally allowing to feel immersed and emotionally invested in what was happening on-screen, and this might be a soundtrack I have to buy too. 🙂
In conclusion Kubo and the Two Strings is damn good film, one of the best of 2016 and I think it might be favourite Laika film (though I still LOVE Coraline). It pains me that more people haven’t checked this film out just because of its visual aesthetic and lack of the typical 3D CGI stuff that a lot of people have become conditioned to. Kubo is an incredible film and while the story is set in the realm of fantasy, at the same time the film felt very grounded and relatable because of the themes, characters and story elements.
Rating: 8.5/10 (Highly recommended for sure!)
So have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀