RELEASED: 9th September 2016
DIRECTOR: Travis Knight
CAST: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, Meyrick Murphy, Minae Noji, Alpha Takahashi, Laura Miro and Ken Takemoto
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $69.9m
AWARDS: 1 BAFTA (Best Animated Film)
Kubo and the Two Strings takes us back to feudal Japan where we follow a young boy named Kubo, who lives in a mountain cave caring for his ill mother Sariatu. Everyday he goes to a nearby village and tells stories by magically manipulating origami with music from his shamisen, returning home before sunset as his mother has explicitly warned him to never stay outside after dark. Unfortunately, Kubo doesn’t make it back on time, leading him to being hunted by his aunts, Karasu and Washi aka The Sisters, and his grandfather, the Moon King, who is looking to take Kubo’s remaining eye, after taking the other one when he was an infant. In order to defeat his grandfather, Kubo must locate a magical suit of armour warn by his late father and is aided on his quest by his little wooden monkey charm brought to life by his mother and Beetle, a samurai who claims to have been an apprentice of Kubo’s father.
Kubo and the Two Strings marked the directorial debut of Travis Knight, Laika’s president and CEO, after working as lead animator on their previous features ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. From the opening scene to when the credits start to roll, the stop-motion animation is absolutely stunning to look at, from the waves crashing around Sariatu and Kubo’s boat, to the creativity and imagination that goes into Kubo using magic to create origamis whilst playing his shamisen, the mannerisms and expressions of the characters on screen, it’s all tremendously well done, especially using Japanese folklore as inspiration for telling the story. The film is a coming-of-age tale that is bursting with fantasy, but remains at its core an emotional story tackling issues such as dealing with the loss of a loved one and how strong memories of them can be. The voice performances amongst the ensemble are solid throughout, with Art Parkinson being great as Kubo, Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey bouncing off each other well along with Parkinson playing the roles of Monkey and Beetle. The musical score from Dario Marianelli is stunning to listen to throughout the film. Kubo and the Two Strings is easily one of my favourite animated films of the decade.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Angry that Hanso hasn’t appeared to him during the Bon festival, Kubo doesn’t return home in time before dark and the sinister sisters appear before him, looking to take his eye. The sequence was so well done and the introduction of the sisters is so well executed and creepy as hell.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “These are the memories of those we’ve have loved and lost. And if we hold their stories, deep in our hearts… then you will never take them away from us.” – Kubo
DID YOU KNOW: The Skeleton Demon (based on the Gashadokuro of Japanese folklore) is the largest stop-motion puppet to be built, standing at eighteen feet tall.