"Kubo and the Two Strings"
Release Date: Aug. 19, 2016
Running Time: 101 minutes
Kubo and the Two Strings represents another triumph for Laika, the stop-motion animation studio responsible for Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. Laika president and CEO Travis Knight makes a memorable directorial debut with this graceful coming-of-age adventure that’s set in Ancient Japan. He weaves a wonderful story about a young storyteller who finds himself thrust into the role the hero in his own tale of intrigue and deception. Kubo (voiced by Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson) is a boy from a family blessed with magical powers that are not always used for good. He, himself, possesses a guitar that allows him to bring his origami creations to life when he beguiles villagers with his stories of courageous warriors and their battles. Kubo’s lived in hiding with his mother since his childbirth after his grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) tore out Kubo’s left eye. When Kubo inadvertently comes out of hiding, the Moon King dispatches his twin daughters (both voiced by Rooney Mara) to track down Kubo so he can tear out Kubo’s right eye for his own nefarious purposes. Kubo is not alone: he has help in the form of the Monkey (Charlize Theron), a no-nonsense mentor to a boy learning how to apply his powers, and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a samurai who is stuck in the body of an insect. Their trek to find a suit of armor that can be used to defeat the Moon King is informed by a mythology that is original to Kubo and the Two Strings but clearly takes its cue from Japanese folklore. Knight fills Kubo and the Two Strings with striking imagery that is as rich and as inviting as anything seen in the Kung Fu Panda franchise. He offers many action-packed set-pieces that he executes in high-octane fashion. But Kubo and the Two Strings is just as much about Kubo’s search for his place in the world, which is complicated by his mother’s tragic sacrifice and his yearning to know the father who died when he was a baby. Monkey and Beetle serve as wise and compassionate substitute parents to a boy haunted by loss, making Kubo and the Two Strings an emotional journey through the grieving process that’s easily relatable. While Parkinson imbues the plucky Kubo with the bravery befitting of a young warrior on a dangerous quest, it is Theron who strikes the perfect balance between parental concern and encouragement to ensure Kubo is prepared for all that is to come. McConaughey provides comic relief in his usual laidback way, although it is odd to hear a samurai—even one in the form of an insect—talk with a Texas drawl. No matter: a family comes in many different shapes, sizes and color, and the “makeshift” family that comes together to fight a common enemy in the Moon King is one as strong as the strings on the guitar that Kubo plays with virtuosity.
Aired: Aug. 18, 2016
Web site: https://www.kubothemovie.com