Kubo And The Two Strings: An Animated Masterpiece

Written By Tommy Tracy

Kubo Poster

Kubo and the Two Strings Plot Summary:

A young boy must find ancient armor of his father’s before his evil Grandfather, accompanied on his journey only by a vengeful monkey and a forgetful beetle. 

I said at the beginning of the summer that Kubo and the Two Strings would be the sleeper hit of the season.  Not only did Kubo meet my expectations, it has surpassed them. Brought to you by LAIKA Entertainment, the studio behind the incredible Coraline and ParaNorman, Kubo is their latest revelation, cementing itself as one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen.

Kubo Poster real

Our story begins with Mother (she has no other name), rescuing a baby Kubo (Art Parkinson) from evils we are not yet aware of. As Kubo grows older, he is forbidden from staying out past sundown, as evil will take his other eye from him. A series of events separates Kubo, whose newest journey is to find three pieces of armor of his deceased fathers. Through magic of his mother’s, he is accompanied by a talking monkey, voiced majestically by Charlize Theron. On their journey, they come across a cursed protégée of Kubo’s father, Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), who is extremely forgetful, but abundantly loyal. Together, they fight an evil destined to stop Kubo from reaching his goal and returning the armor to its rightful heir.

The plot is basic enough, but what truly sets Kubo apart from other animated features is its attention to character development, and its series of meanings and themes most kids won’t pick up on until they’re older, in particular with Monkey and Beetle.  They are the true show stealers. I already sang the praises of Theron, but McConaughey is unrecognizable as Beetle, and his energy keeps the audience entertained from the moment he steps foot on screen. Newcomer Art Parkinson is also very good as our titular character, developing from an innocent boy to heroic man. Rooney Mara also plays a set of evil twin witches.  Her voice is the definition of creepy. I can see these characters giving younger children nightmares.

If the themes are too heavy for some of the younger audiences, don’t worry, there is plenty of action and comedy to keep them entertained.  I do look forward to children who enjoyed this, but revisiting it to understand the elements they didn’t notice during their first go around. The action beats are fantastic, and all the praise in the world needs to go to these animators and stop-motion engineers who worked on this film. Kids my age grew up on Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, which took us to a world of wonder and excitement, but also helped us appreciate the visuals we were watching. The stop-motion played well and looked beautiful.  That is no different here with Kubo. This is, hands down, the most beautiful display of stop-motion animation I have ever seen.

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I’m going to make two very big claims right now. The first, Kubo and the Two Strings will win Best Animated Feature at the next Academy Awards. Secondly, if we’re lucky, LAIKA will be the next Studio Ghibli as they continue to put out work as incredible as their other three features. Hopefully this time, we as a collective movie going audience will give films like this more of our time, attention and money, and not let LAIKA go under as Ghibli did. Animated features have proven to be just as good (and in some cases better) than many live action films. While Disney and Dreamworks continue to dish out good material, there is room for a studio such as this to make films just as important to us as the other studios can.

Kubo and the Two Strings is my second favorite film I’ve seen all year, sitting barely below The Nice Guys. It is fast, fun, exciting and so beautiful that it needs to be recognized. Do yourself a favor: SEE THIS MOVIE!

Final Grade: 9.5/10