I saw Kubo and the Two Strings and it was magical! A solid 4.5 out of 5.
The wonderful thing about Laika is their attention to detail, both in the animation and the story.
The story is well crafted and beautiful but not perfect. If you enjoy fantasy, animated movies, or a good cry, this movie is for you. Go see it and help its box-office totals.
5. Not Afraid of Sadness
From the first scene of the movie, you know this isn’t going to be a light hearted comedy. It’s dark, magical, and ends with a baby who’s missing an eye.
Throughout the movie there are scenes where the writers could have avoided sadness or pain, both for the audience and for the main character. They don’t avoid it at all, and I cried a few times during the movie.
It’s not just cheap tricks, but genuinely heart hurting moments. Watching Kubo take care of his mother who seems to be losing her mind or watching him pray to his father were cry-worthy.
The movie balances the sadness with humour while avoiding useless slapstick. (Although there is a part with a fire breathing chicken that is slapstick-ish but hilarious.)
The humour flows from the characters, not from the jokes. It means each joke has a reason and helps balance the intensity of the rest of the story.
I laughed a lot.
3. Nuanced Characters
When I saw the trailers I assumed the Beetle Samurai would be a cross between Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove and Donkey from Shrek. I was wrong. He, like the rest of the characters, was well balanced and so very human.
It’s important for a writer to understand why their characters exist and what pushes them. In a lot of comedies, the only answer is humour. At no point could Kubo and the Two Strings be considered a traditional comedy.
2. No Useless Information
There is a lot that happens in the movie and at the beginning you’re given a lot of information. Some of that information is purely visual and easy to ignore. Every detail, from the stories to the landscape is important. It’s a tightness that is hard to do in writing without giving too much away.
Everything is important; every line has a double meaning. It’s beautiful.
1. Strong Ending
The ending threatens to undermine the entire message(s) in the movie and for a split second I was ready to be extremely angry. After the fake out, the story ended the best way it could and made me extremely happy. Like the humour, the ending was driven from the characters.
Throughout the movie, despite terrible things happening, there is a strong message of love and hope; both for the character and humanity.
There was joy, even in death, and that’s something that we don’t see very often.
If you haven’t guessed, I loved this movie but it wasn’t perfect. The end of the second act dragged a little and there were a few parts that luxuriated in the animation (which is spectacular).
The biggest issue I had was that none of the main cast, or writers, were Japanese, or even Asian. There were some of the extras that were played by Asian characters and George Takei does have a few lines, but overall it’s all white people.
You can argue, as the producers have, that it doesn’t matter as much in animation because the voice is the important part and not the look. I think that’s taking the easy defense. There are plenty of great Japanese actors that could have done the voices.
Despite my minor reservations, this was a spectacular movie that I look forward to owning and watching again and again. Solid 4.5 out of 5.
What did you think of Kubo and the Two Strings?