Movie Review – Kubo and the Two Strings

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by Travis Knight

Beautifully animated

‘A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.’ (IMDb) (by Travis Knight, 101 min.)

The studio that brought us Coraline, Paranorman and The Boxtrolls, comes to us with a new tale. I must be honest, when I saw the trailer the first time, I didn’t connect this movie with Laika Studios. The animation style did stir a memory within me. But it is so much more colorful than the other movies they put out, that I didn’t immediately make the connection.

The moment I started this movie though, I was smitten. I was spellbound. Kubo, a young boy, lives with his mother in a small village. Only rule: he has to be home before dark. He takes care of his mother and goes to the village to tell stories and earn money. Until one day, he stays in the village after dark and strange and powerful forces find him. From there starts his adventure to find a magical armour to help vanquish the evil forces trying to capture him.

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The entire story is beautifully told and tells the story of family bonds, of courage and strength. It’s the story about how far a person goes to save the people he loves. It’s a story about the power of memories. It’s a universal story, told many times before you might say, but the way they go on to tell the story is unique. Young Kubo is helped in his search by a monkey and a beetle, that will have an important part in his travels, but they also are important part of his past, as we will learn at the end. The story does never stand still and after each action points there comes another, evolving into a story that keeps you on your toes from begin to end.

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The technique used to make this movie is one of a kind and it is what Laika Studios is known for. After the first 10 minutes you just forget it is made with stop motion and you lose yourself in the colours and the style. I think they especially outdid themselves with the Origami bits. They feel simple and real, yet are full of feeling and easy to understand. The monkey, Kubo, Beetle, the leaves, the origami… it all is full of detail and I especially liked the skeleton they encounter at one point.

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I think this is the best movie Laika Studies put out to date, and this is saying much as Coraline is one of my favourite movies. It is a film for all ages, with a beautiful design and everyone can read this movie in a different way, which is perfect if you like discussing movies with friends or family.

8/10 stars

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