Kubo and the Two Strings 3D
Out Now On-Demand
Be bold, be brave, be epic.
Stop motion animated fantasty adventure from Laika (ParaNorman), set in ancient Japan, following a boy who must find help when a vengeful spirit is released. Features Oscar-winning voices Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, as well as nominees Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes and Brenda Vaccaro.
Clever, kindhearted Kubo (Art Parkinson, Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.
Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Theron) and Beetle (McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.
Best Animated Film, BAFTAs 2017
Adventure, Animated, Kids & Family, Fantasy, 3D
Rating: PG Violence & scary scenes
Laika Entertainment is an animation studio to be adored. From Coraline to ParaNorman to 2014’s stupendous The Boxtrolls, they are continually pushing themselves as well as cinematic stop motion art in general. This trend hasn’t changed; Kubo and the Two Strings is the most beautiful film Laika has created.
As with the studio’s previous films, Kubo has a maturity that caters to older kids without going overboard. It can be scary but it’s never too scary. There is violence but it’s never too violent. The story can get dark but it’s never horrendously grim. These same important qualities made a number of family fantasy adventures of the ‘80s stand out, like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and – on a lower level – Return to Oz.
But what really gives Kubo that old-school feel is how much attention they give its lead characters: Kubo, Monkey and Beetle. The majority of the film focuses on just them, which becomes agonisingly essential to the story’s conclusion. Modern animated family films tend to cram in as many characters as Toys-R-Us can shelve, so to have one that focuses purely on three is a welcome contrast. As a result, their enriched relationship is one of the most memorable aspects of the film.
The only real drawback comes with particular character reveals that I won’t spoil, but can safely (if vaguely) say that they leave weird gaps in the trio’s bond that don’t quite get filled out. It’s nothing huge, but it’s noticeable.
Then there’s the visuals. My God, the visuals. From the striking environments to the vibrant facial expressions, this film throws every synonym for ‘beautiful’ in a blender and makes a new dictionary. Only wizards and witches could have created this in stop motion, proving that Disney and Pixar aren’t alone in creating animated magic.
The Guardian (UK)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
New York Times
NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)
Laika Studios top both PARANORMAN and CORALINE with a stop-motion animation so sumptuous you can, if you like, zone out the story and just go with the stunning visuals.
In ancient Japan, Kubo, a young boy (voiced by GAME OF THRONES’ Art Parkinson), sets out on a magical adventure, aided by a blue Monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron), and a very funny Samurai Beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey, displaying the talent for comic timing that made his brief appearance in Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET such a pleasure).
The rest of the voice cast is pretty impressive too, featuring Rooney Mara (as sister witches), George Takei (as a local in Kubo’s village), and Ralph Fiennes, (chewing the microphone as the big bad, Moon King).
Having inherited magical powers from his mother, Kubo uses his two-stringed guitar-like shamisen to bring colourful origami paper to life, creating all manner of animated wonders, from a Samurai warrior and a flock of birds, to a fire-breathing chicken, firing eggs from its rear like a canon.
Witty, wise and wonderful to be immersed in, Laika’s latest animation is a stunner, accompanied by a beautiful score. Oh, and stay for the end credits to be rewarded with a cracking cover of The Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeped’ by Regina Spektor, and an all-too brief glimpse of the animators at work, bringing a giant skeleton to life.