Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

    Kubo And The Two Strings follows the story of a boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) who must locate a magical suit of armor to defeat his grandfather called The Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and his twin aunts known as the Sisters (Rooney Mara). Aiding Kubo is an anthropomorphic monkey (Charlize Theron) and a half human/half beetle (Matthew McConaughey).

   I really enjoyed the voice work by the cast. However, while Art Parkinson was terrific as Kubo, I found the real standouts to be the adult actors. Charlize Theron brought a lot of humanity to the role of Monkey as she plays her as both a warm maternal presence and comedic "straight man." Matthew McConaughey served as great comic relief as Beetle who is very thick-headed yet has a heart of gold. Rooney Mara was also a standout, using her calm soothing voice to fit the psychopathic menace of the evil Sisters.

   Next, the animation. This film has perhaps the best animation that I've seen in a film so far this year. Watching Kubo strum his shamisen to turn papers into birds or a bunch of leaves into a ship was an absolute marvel to behold. Admittingly, I don't usually see a lot of stop-motion animated films. But I was still amazed by what I saw and how the filmmakers managed to blend ancient Asian culture with modern Hollywoodized stop-motion technology.

   Lastly, I loved how the film manages to delve into the power of storytelling. For example, when Kubo goes to the village to tell stories to the townsfolk by summoning pieces of paper into origami with his magical shamisen, it entertains the townsfolk and lifts their spirits. That's why a lot of us tell stories. We tell stories to make us feel something and to connect everyone around us.

   The ending I found to be slightly anti-climactic. But I didn't really feel that the film was about all the action that took place. It's more about the characters and their interactions, the visuals, and the morality surrounding the story.

    Overall, Kubo And The Two Strings strums an eclectic and harmonious tune about the power of stories. It's got tremendous voice work and is a feast for the eyes of the imagination.

Grade: A+