“The following is a guest post by The Silver Screen Mage.”
“If you must blink, do it now.”
The intense quote above stands correct as Laika Productions brings a visually remarkable film to the big screen! Kubo and the Two Strings delivers one of the top best animated films of 2016. It has bright, adventurous, stunning moments stirred with dark, conflicting, sorrowful instances that literally flow magnificently! If you don’t plan on catching this movie, you will surely miss out on the magic that takes place during the film and the magic it leaves you with upon departure. I personally loved it, loved it, loved it! I saw the midnight showing after a full day at work and didn’t dose off once. I couldn’t believe what I had just watched when I walked out of the theater!
The story of Kubo begins with a boy who is a masterful storyteller. He does crowd-stopping performances for the local village. He has a gift that allows him to bring pieces of paper to life in the form of origami with the strum of a magical guitar from his mother. With this guitar, you will witness a masterpiece of art and beauty throughout the film that allow you to experience the impossible. Early on, Kubo’s conflict creates his adventure when he fails to meet his curfew at sunset. In doing so, he soon learns that he is being hunted by his vengeful grandfather who stole is eye as an infant.
This round, the grandfather, known as the Moon King, is coming for the other eye with the help of his dark-shaded, masked daughters, known as The Sisters. Kubo ventures off with his two guardians, a snow Monkey and a samurai Beetle, to collect a three-piece armor that can protect him from his grandfather and his aunts. Along the way you are touched by art in the form of stories that bring passion to the characters, heartwarming, intimate moments, along with action packed samurai battles!
Kubo is the lead character in this film played by Art Parkinson, who you may know from the film San Andreas, and the TV series Game of Thrones. His character really resonated with me because throughout the entire movie he symbolized innocence, love, curiosity, and bravery. He is hands down the best character in the film and will be adored by many. He brings a lot of positivity and humor to the quest at hand!
One Kubo’s guardians was a toy monkey who was brought to life to ensure Kubo’s protection and completion of his quest. Played by Charlize Theron, Snow Monkey plays a heavy-hearted role in Kubo’s life. She balances out the group with her motherly, innate character. But don’t be fooled by the love. There are several occasions where she will break out her sword and put all feelings aside. She plays a vital role with her no tolerance for nonsense beat, because through it all, she has a strong connection with Kubo and keeps him on track. You go, Snow Monkey!
Another one of Kubo’s guardians went by the name Beetle. He is a man, who was once a samurai who’s memory was wiped from him and false memories were put in their place. Since he did receive flash memories occasionally, he was able to recall being trained by Kubo’s father. He then made an oath to help Kubo find the armor he needed for protection. Played by Matthew McConaughey, Beetle is the older version of Kubo in their acts of silliness and constant trouble making. You can’t help but love his down to earth, comic relief, high energy moments because they are much needed on their quest. I loved that they didn’t over do it with his joking. It was just the right touch. Thumbs up for Beetle!
The next pair of characters I’m super excited to talk about are The Sisters! Oh man were they the bomb! I’m talking about a horror level that actually made me shiver a few times when they entered a scene! These sisters floated everywhere they went! There was no scene where their feet hit the ground! It was amazing! They were raw, and ruthless, and worthy to be feared. The best part about them were these metal, chain whips with spiky claw-like knives on them! Take a look at these photos because I’m not going to pretend to know what they are. But I do know that I flipped out when they whipped out those chains! I was on the edge of my seat as they battled pretty much everyone in the dang movie.
Talking about them has made me like them even more! With their V for Vendetta masks on, and floating around followed by a heavy black cloud, they stole the show. They killed it!
Props to the animators and Miss Rooney Mara!
Lets jump into…
The 8-Bit Review
ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! Just look at the art in these photos. The beauty, and freedom, and character detail is simply impeccable!
During the film it comes even more alive than these photos. You can see the detail in their teeth, clothing creases, hair in the face, hand gestures, and even wind blowing Monkey’s fur.
There is a scene where Kubo takes flight using magic origami birds with the strum of his guitar! WOW! It’s truly majestic! Don’t judge me.
I was a little doubtful about the motion picture soundtrack before I heard it. I decided to listen to it on my way to the movie and I enjoyed it a lot. But watching the music assist in the storytelling BLEW MY MIND! It was mind-blowing how much chemistry the motion picture had with the scenes it portrayed! It paired wonderfully just like the deep break down music on Full House when it was time to get the moral of the episode. If you’re into motion picture soundtracks, Dario Marianelli brings his A-game on this film!
I played it on my way home and I literally was able to mentally re-watch the movie! Great, great job! The only reason it didn’t receive a 10 was the fact that it lacked a particular, repeatable theme. There were a lot of instances where you hear this sort of banjo mixed with a harmonizing flute, topped with some clickity-clack noise. But I didn’t hear much of a “Oh that’s from the movie Kubo” theme music. But that’s such a small necessity in my opinion, therefore, I still rate the audio significantly high. These are three of my favorite tracks from the motion picture soundtrack.
Family Friendliness: 9/10
As far as family appeal goes, I think it’s a solid, all age movie. I believe there are a few moments where situations get pretty deep and have a strong amount of dialogue. But I don’t think it was enough to unsettle the little ones. There are a few scenes that can be considered “scary images” but they are very brief and blotted in with long gaps in between. Like I said above about those sisters, they struck a fear-nerve a little for me. I definitely vote yes on whether you are contemplating taking mom, dad, granny, gramps or your pastor.
When it came down to the message of the film, I believe it was pretty strong. I also believe there are a variety of different ideas and morals one could take away from this film. Whether it’s bravery, childlike faith, perseverance, love, trust, family… the list goes on. There is such a beauty, and harmony to this film and it does a wonderful job staying within the magical theme. It didn’t quite hit the 10/10 mark because there wasn’t an apparent moral message that everyone could relate to. I think you had to dig deep down to find it, and for most who watch it purely for entertainment, it could possibly be missed.
The film did a wonderful job building up a story for each character. They put a lot of effort and detail into making sure you knew who was who. On the flip side, it did come off a little corny with the spot on exposition. It felt a lot like, “Do you know why I’m hunting you? Well the reason is xxyyzz.”. Although, there are times in which that is necessary, it did happen quite often in this film. I also felt a little unsure of a few things when the film ended. I did feel like they missed the explanatory mark on a few conflicts also. Overall, I left with a great understanding of each character and their purpose and the purpose of the conflict that led to the great quest, but I did need a little more.
I give this section a high 9!! I loved the amount of challenges Kubo and his guardians had to face throughout their journey! Whether it was a giant skeleton, entrancing eyeballs under the sea, or the crazy sisters, you felt fearful for their lives. There are further situations that led me to give this such a high score, but I don’t want to say too much.
Laika Productions have this incredible animation within their films that sincerely set them far apart from other animated films. I’ve really never seen anything quite so exquisite. The way that they took this magical guitar and live origami was something I’ve never seen before. They have once again set themselves apart from others and it has once again paid off!
My Personal Score: 9/10
Like I’ve been raving about all through this review, the movie was phenomenal on so many levels! It hit it out of the park with the characters, story, art, animation, and music. I will most certainly be watching this one again! I fell in love with multiple characters, and the story behind each one! It mixed well with my sensitive spirit with it’s non-existent inappropriateness. I just felt so over joyed leaving the big screen, and that giant grin that I wore hours after the film was enough to rate it a high 9!
I sincerely hope you watch this film and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. The movie was a lot of fun along with writing this review. I’m honored to be able to share my thoughts and opinions about it. If this impacts one person than this was all worth it. Please stay tuned for more reviews I’ll be doing.
–Silver Screen Mage out
Aggregated Score: 8.9