Set in ancient Japan, we first meet the young Kubo in his cliff side cave outside of a seaside town, as he tends to his sickly mother. Mom is ill, but has enough strength to tell stories of the past to Kubo; including how Kubo lost his eye. Without spoiling things, it’s easier to say that the past is unforgiving and Kubo shouldn’t stay out after dark. Though it wasn’t his fault, Kubo is caught out past curfew which, endangers the entire town. In the aftermath, that sends Kubo on the run, he tries to remember the tales his mother told. The stories of Hanzo’s enchanted armour are true and waiting to be claimed. This mystical armour is the only thing that can protect Kubo from the forces looking to destroy him.
The 4th film from Oregon based Laika Entertainment, the studio that brought you Coraline and ParaNorman; Kubo and the Two Strings is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. The film quickly sheds its kiddie marketing for a tone that isn’t darker, but certainly more tense. That’s mostly because Kubo is as engaging as it is a visual wonder. As Kubo goes on his quest, expectantly picking up friends along the way; we’re treated to the amazing blend of CGI and stop motion animation.
Technically imperfect yet, Kubo could possibly be a new classic. There were moments of cringe when some of the comedy fell flat. The story is a bit muddied at times, bordering on incomprehensible at times. However, with its picturesque animation and cast of memorable characters, it’s hard to not imagine Kubo and the Two Strings as a nominee for the best animated film of the year. Disney should be very concerned that Kubo is coming for the Best Animation in a Feature Film award. The stop-motion specialists at Laika bring a surprisingly poignant coming of age story to a crowded summer movie schedule.
Rated: PG @ 101 mins