“If you must blink, do it now.”
These words begin “Kubo and the Two Strings,” a fast-paced visual masterpiece of a movie that tells a story of samurai action, family and the importance of stories.
Kubo is a young storytelling bard who lives with his loving, but not all there mother, in a small town. He supports both of them with the stories he tells of the brave samurai, Hanzo, and his fight against the evil Lord Moon, with the help of his magical ability to make moving origami. But after ignoring his mother’s warnings, he finds himself on his own journey to defeat Lord Moon, withthe help of a protective monkey and samurai cursed into the form of a beetle.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” is the newest offering of the Laika Studio, which can probably contend for the position of my favorite animation studio right now, and is the only mainstream studio still doing stop motion animation. The animation within the film is definitely the biggest draw of the film. Every frame feels like a work of art, but at the same time there is fluidity in the stop motion that is appreciated in the very elaborate fight scenes throughout the film. The attention to detail is simply fantastic, from the way hair moves to a large puppet that is shown in the end credits to stand larger than the puppeteers controlling during filming. It’s not surprising that this took years to make.
The story, while good, is not the strongest. It’s exposition heavy, but makes it enjoyable. It both defies tropes and lives comfortably in them, allowing for some shocking and enjoyable moments. On the other hand, there is what is supposed to be a big reveal in the movie that can be seen coming fairly early on. At it’s heart, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is a children’s movie about a fight between good and evil. It does treat the audience like adults, though. When it needs to be dark, it is, and it needs to be dark quite a lot.
This seriousness sells the stakes and makes the viewer feel invested, especially with a constant threat hanging over the heroes’ heads that both Kubo and the audience are constantly reminded of.
This is not a perfect movie, but its merits are leaps and bounds ahead of its flaws.
Any fan of animation, storytelling or music should go see this movie.