'Kubo and the Two Strings'
In a word, stunning. From within an animation industry churning out CG film after CG film, “Kubo and the Two Strings” swept onto the summer screen Aug. 19 in a captivating storm of vision, beauty and heart. The movie was produced by stop-motion animation studio Laika Entertainment, who also produced“Coraline” (2009) and “ParaNorman” (2012), and they continue to be living proof that patience is a virtue.
“If you must blink, do it now,” the titular character whispers as the first scene unfolds, warning people that what happens next must be watched in its entirety. It is easy to heed his advice. Contrary to the method used, there is never a moment’s pause from the action in this stop-motion film, and every moment is a visual delight. The animation flows seamlessly from its vibrant characters to its sprawling landscapes to its ethereal, eeriest moments, engaging and not distracting the audience from the film’s simpler story.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” frames itself around the narrative structure of folktales, following the young boy Kubo( voiced by Art Parkinson) on his mystical quest to escape a vengeful god. He is joined on his journey by a monkey (Charlize Theron) and giant beetle (Matthew McConaughey) and armed with a magical instrument. Kubo must confront the spirits of his past in order to see his story to the end.
The film’s most charming plot elements are best left unspoiled, but at its core, it is a story that has something for all ages with a theme that is ultimately universal. There were a number of scenes where I was jarred from the moment by one one-liner too many, but the children in the audience enjoyed the humor just fine. Regardless, the director’s capable visual storytelling supported the film through its weakest moments.
Laika Entertainment demonstrates their dedication and passion for their craft in every scene of the movie. Their featurettes released onto the internet display a truly staggering amount of effort, particularly with the painstaking attention to detail the production crew poured into every prop, character, set and frame of the film.
It is, quite frankly, excruciating to watch the slow and steady process that went on behind the scenes, but through it, the studio has breathed new life into the animation industry. Their astounding animation lent their movie a cinematic quality that other animated films over the past several years have lacked. This feature-length film could be nothing less than a labor of love.
Although a few ham-fisted jokes shy of perfection, “Kubo and the Two Strings” was enthralling, an experience I would be happy to repeat. The film has secured a position in my list of personal favorites, and by this time next year, I will be the happy owner of a Blu-ray disc.