Kubo and the Two Strings Review
Director: Travis Knight.
Laika, the same studio that brought us ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and Coraline now give us the Longest stop-motion feature film to date. It's the directorial debut of their president and CEO Travis Knight, who has worked as animator on all three mentioned films.
The enchanting adventure is set in ancient Japan about a magical, one-eyed boy called Kubo who seems to have a nasty side in his family who's hunting him by night. By day, he ventures to the nearest village to perform origami theatricals with the aid of his entrancing shamisen. He's superbly voiced by GoT's Rickon Stark, Art Parkinson.
Unfortunately, night catches up with him and leads him on a quest in a foreign land to find hidden treasures to help defend him from his pursuers, his Grandfather, The Moon King and his aunties who are graceful dark witches those presence is quite haunting, like the stuff nightmares are made of, especially with their harmonic voices acted by Rooney Mara.
Aided by his charming, protective Monkey (Charlize Theron), a clumsy samurai beetle (Matthew McConaughey) and their guide, the thick-folded, tiny and silent, origami samurai warrior that reminds me of a Studio Ghibli muted mascots. They lead us on a beautiful journey that's emotionally encompassing, unpredictable and action-packed.
There's something both sweet and sinister about this medium of animation. Similar to Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Laika's Coraline but with the cute comedy of A Town Called Panic and Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit. Though this is some of the finest stop-motion animation I have ever seen, the captivating action sequences are mind-boggling with Kubo having multi-million possible faces, the largest puppet, model ever used and the boat sequence alone took 19months to capture. It's so good it's actually unbelievable it's stop-motion.
All the characters are uniquely engaging, elegant in their own way and the movie itself is visually stunning with an amazing contrast between colour and darkness. Dario Marianelli's score is brilliant, working with the shamisen and Regina Spektor's reworked version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is touching.
Certainly one of the best animations to come out this year if not ever, great family storytelling perfectly paced with action, humour and drama.
Be sure to stay for the end credits and see the animators at play.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for a beautifully crafted work of cinema, truly astonishing animation.