If you must blink, do it now …
From its captivating narration and first stormy scene, Kubo and the Two Strings lures the audience into its vivid storytelling and exquisite execution of stop-motion animation.
The film is set in a Japanese seaside village where kindhearted Kubo (voice of Art Parkinson, best known as Rickon Stark on Game of Thrones) spends his days caring for his ill mother and making a living as a street performer. With his guitar and animated origami, Kubo entertains the villagers with his tall tales of his fallen father, a great samurai warrior. His humble life turns chaotic when Kubo accidentally awakens the spirits of his past who are out to get him.
The young boy sets out an epic quest to save himself and his family by learning the secret of his heritage. Along the way, Kubo gets help from an enchanted, very serious Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a loopy Beetle (Matthew McConaughey).
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There are some scenes that may be too frightful for the youngest audiences, especially when the evil twin Sisters (Rooney Mara) and the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) make an appearance. Overall, the story of family and compassion will resonate with all.
The film marks McConaughey’s first foray into animated films. He told Variety: “I’d been looking for a voice acting role for years. When this came along — it’s a quality production, Laika’s quality, the story’s good — I was in.”
Laika’s “quality production” is an understatement. The film is gorgeous. Known for its inventive animated storytelling including 2009’s Coraline and 2012’s ParaNorman, Laika Entertainment will most likely garner top honors during awards season for Kubo.
Kubo, we’ve been looking for you for so long.
Kubo and the Two Strings
☆☆☆☆ (out of five)
Director: Travis Knight
Cast: Voices of Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, Brenda Vaccaro, George Takei
Rating: PG (thematic elements, scary images, action and peril)
Running time: 101 min.