MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Kubo and the Two Strings” is voiced by Art Parkinson (Dracula Untold, San Andreas), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus), Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Sahara), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Her), Brenda Vaccaro (Johnny Bravo [TV series], Midnight Cowboy), and George Takei (Star Trek [TV series], Mulan). It is directed by Travis Knight and is written by Marc Haimes (Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word, Trollhunters [TV series]), Chris Butler (ParaNorman), and Shannon Tindle (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends [TV series]). When Kubo (Parkinson) makes himself known to his evil deity of a grandfather, he embarks on a quest with a monkey (Theron) and a beetle (McConaughy) in order to obtain weaponry that will stop the god.
Besides the fact that this film is stop-motion animated, knowing that it comes from Laika, the same studio that brought us “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” was enough to draw me into the theaters. I love the world of stop-motion, as you may know, so let me first say that the style and visuals of this movie are stunning. Absolutely stunning. I remember watching the “Wallace & Gromit” short films as a child, and seeing how far we have come since then is amazing. The location and characters this feature presents us are beautiful, both in design and story. The hard work and effort that goes into making these is respectable and noteworthy as it takes an immense amount of time just to create one scene. The elements that went into crafting this were terrific, with the use of paper as well as the biggest stop-motion figure. I thoroughly enjoyed just looking at this movie, and I could write pages on the subject. Anything else that was good would just be a bonus. However, the other aspects of this film are where the problems lie. I expected a lot from this release because of how critics have hyped it up. Sure, you aren’t supposed to have other people’s opinions influence your own when reviewing a film, but I couldn’t help it; it is difficult to not walk in with the expectations of those who talk up, or down, a flick. The beginning of this movie was strong. It spoke loud in both its visuals and narrative. We are given the start of Kubo’s journey as well as his background in such a symbolic and glowing way that it is hard not to fall in love with the film. I was in awe, and for the first thirty minutes I remained that way. That is, until we get to the second act. For some reason, the sensation that this release gave off wasn’t as spectacular as it was earlier. I can’t explain it. It can’t be me getting used to the medium, so it has to be the plot. We get to a point where visuals take over the story, and while that it great most times, others it doesn’t work. These can create scenes that drag because dialogue is either dry or filler. Throughout Kubo’s journey to acquire this golden armor, he encounters some friends and foes. There is some fantastic humor, especially by McConaughey’s Beetle, but somewhere along the way the plot loses its touch. It is still incredibly entertaining, there’s no doubt in that. But, I can’t help but feel that it loses the weight or punch it had in the first act. I may be the only one who thinks this, but that is my opinion. There are things to enjoy and appreciate in its entirety. I thought the conflict that our characters struggled with as well as their banter was written nicely, for the most part. The voice acting was great and almost all of the characters were portrayed fantastically. I just wasn’t as thrilled with the story as most people were, and to be honest, I think it is because of the background. We are presented with Eastern culture, so there is a ton of symbolism in this Japanese location. I know very little of the culture, so right off the bat I’m not in the target audience. On top of that, the symbolism I spoke of tends to overshadow the logic of the plot line. I get it, it’s animated; nothing should be real. However, when you reach the ending and are dealt with a slap to the face in the narrative, you tend to get angry. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the last ten minutes were disappointing. I get that the writers went for symbolism, but it made no sense in the end! Then, once the final battle is “over,” we are handed a hard cut to something on a lower caliber that makes you question, “what was the point of our hero’s conflict?” It doesn’t throw away the entire adventure, but it sure does make you roll your eyes. I don’t understand why this film got the immense praise that it did. It’s a really good movie, yes, but is it better than “Coraline”? I would say no. Still, if you are looking for a good stop-motion animated film, I’d point you to “Kubo,” mainly because of its beautiful visuals and great entertainment. FINAL SCORE: 85%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: