Kubo lives a quiet, normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior.
User Reviews: If this film was told from another perspective, Kubo and the Two Strings might be considered a bit preachy. It still might be, regardless. But no matter how you look at it, it is something to be looked at more than once. It is simply an amazing work of animated achievement in cinema.
Set in what could be medieval Japan, a little boy named Kubo scratches out a meager existence on the village streets earning just enough for him and his mother to survive. For her part, mom (voiced by Charlize Theron) sits at the mouth of their mountaintop cave in a comatose state every day until dusk. This is also the time when Kubo must be home, not only to be there when she snaps out of it to regale him with stories of his long lost warrior father, but so he can be safe from the evil that bewitched his mother and left him with only one eye. Failing to do this one fateful night forces Kubo on a journey to recover mythical armor and weapons that will beat back the forces of darkness and restore love and harmony to his life and the lives of others. Aiding him on his quest are a miniature monkey carving come to life, an origami samurai, and a beetle/man warrior (Matthew McConaughey).
What is truly exceptional about Kubo and the Two Strings is not the story. The characters have American English accents and are not Asian. A couple characters aren’t really fleshed out (those of Brenda Vaccaro and Ralph Fiennes for example). Although the film is geared toward a younger audience, there are deep themes of rebirth and reincarnation that are a major part of the movie and seem heavy handed, as was hinted at earlier. The story is not the star, the presentation of the story is what shines.
Anyone who is familiar with Laika studios work (Coraline, The Boxtrolls) will not be disappointed in how Kubo and the Two Strings looks. For the uninitiated, be prepared to see a film that hearkens back to the old style of painstaking, stop-motion animation with a splash of 21st century wizardry. These filmmakers have done what other strive to do with budgets two, four, even six times larger. They have made an animated world that pulls you in with its realism. It doesn’t come off as cartoon like. Eyes glisten, teeth are almost translucent, hair blows in the wind, characters have shadows. Any shortcomings in the script are quickly forgiven when the evil sisters float into the scene or when Kubo (Art Parkinson) captivates the town folk with his storytelling. It’s the attention to detail, the craftsmanship, and artistic appreciation that sets films like Kubo and the Two Strings apart from other animated feature films. The filmmakers have learned a lot from the old masters and have served notice that they are at the top of their game. Just sit back and let them and their latest undertaking work their magic on you.