Funnily Enough, There Are Three.
Yo, this be Reuben. From Laika, the company who brought us Coraline, Paranorman and Boxtrolls, we’ve been given another stop-motion treat. Actually, “treat” is a massive understatement for this masterpiece of a movie.
Yes, Kubo and the Two Strings is incredible.
The first thing that jumps out with Kubo is its awe-inspiring stop-motion animation, and incredible settings brought to life with fantastic CGI – there is a perfect mix of stop-motion and CGI to make everything look gert good to full effect. There is a huge grandeur to the film, as Kubo embarks on his amazing adventure in his highly detailed and breathtaking world. The character designs are also particularly charming, and unique, with a huge influence of ancient Japanese culture – colourful designs like those of the samurai.
It is the inspiration of Japanese culture that makes the film’s aesthetic so special, as the beautiful landscapes of Japan are reflected in the massive world the studio managed to so finely create. From Kubo’s quaint Japanese village to the snowy and huge mountains and caves, this film has it all in terms of setting.
The soundtrack is also an integral part of making Kubo and the Two Strings the special experience it is. This aspect of the film is also hugely influenced by ancient Japanese culture, with the constantly alternating and oriental sounding strings pervading through the run time — orchestras are also used to great dramatic effect.
Perhaps more important, however, is the action. Kubo and the Two Strings is an action adventure film, and throughout our protagonist’s immense journey, intense battle scenes are an important and enjoyable factor. Dramatic action sequences provide a stream of excitement in the movie, showing off the animation in great set-pieces.
Of course, characters are always vital to moving a film from good to great. This particular film gets character absolutely spot on. There is a potent mix of comedy, bonding and emotional drive in Kubo and the Two Strings’ cast; as the three protagonists of Kubo, ‘Monkey’ and ‘Beetle’ show. You’d be right in thinking Kubo’s the main guy, and rightfully so, because through him the adventure and the emotion of his story are driven. ‘Monkey’ brings a nice li’l mixture of comedy and emotion, as well as giving the movie a much needed aggressive edge. ‘Beetle’, my personal favourite, is the perfect comedy relief, as through him there is a stream of light and well written funnies. The best thing about the three main characters, however, is the unbreakable bond created between them (they’ve got great voice actors at the helm, to boot), something that is built right as Kubo sets off on his quest.
This particular quest Kubo embarks on is one of finding the magical armour of his late samurai father, and getting sweet, sweet revenge against the villains of the piece, who stole his eye, and intend to grab his other for good measure. It’s a simple story, but oh so effective. As I wrote about in dat Finding Dory review (a bit), the simpler, the more memorable and followable (there’s that Shakespeare thing coming out of me again – oops) the story, and the film as a whole, becomes — and unless it’s one of those psychological science fictions like Ex Machina (ha, two links in one paragraph), it could easily mean it is better than something that goes too crazy with its plot. The basic plot in Kubo and the Two Strings acts as a foundation for further story-telling. The basic plot develops through the film to something deeper, and something that is potently delivered with impressive amounts of emotion (look, I was close to crying, okay?). It all comes to an immense close with its dramatic finale, too.
Some might think it all gets a little over-the-top as the film comes to a close, but that isn’t the case. Everything comes together, in quite awesome fashion. Another qualm people have about the movie is that Beetle seems like a bit of a tacked on comedy relief for the kids, and although his lines aren’t constantly funny, I found there were a lot of really clever lines and for the most part he is indeed funny.
To conclude, Kubo and the Two Strings is by far the best film of 2016 so far, and probably one of the best of this decade, with its awe-inspiring animation, potently delivered story, brilliant character and fantastic world creation all shown off in Kubo’s incredible and action-packed journey – nice helpings of comedy and emotion are very welcome too.
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