From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in many years. Not only does every moment of the movie look exquisite, but the story is smart, original and hugely entertaining. The themes it explores with a very light touch are rich and deep, provocative and engaging. And since there's so much to the movie, the comedy is that much sharper, the action that much more thrilling and the ultimate message that much more powerful.
Set in mythical Japan, the story centres on a cheeky young boy named Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) who lost an eye when he was attacked as an infant by his grandfather (Ralph Fiennes) and two aunts (Rooney Mara times two). His father died in the struggle, but his mother got him out and raised him in a cave, making sure he never stayed outdoors after dark when his grandfather, the Moon King, could see him. A boy with boundless imagination, Kubo uses music and origami to entertain the villagers with the elaborately epic tale of his father's lifelong quest for three important pieces of armour. But one evening he stays out too late, and has to flee from his attacking aunts. Now his only companion is a sardonic monkey (Charlize Theron) and a forgetful warrior (Matthew McConaughey) who has been transformed into a big beetle. Together they decide to search for the armour so they can take on the Moon King once and for all.
This journey is the main body of the movie, encompassing comedy, adventure and some very scary moments. All of the story's twists and turns echo with the complexity of family and relationships, as Kubo tries to understand the things his parents could never tell him about himself. He also, of course, wants to better understand his own magical abilities, which are animated in breathtaking ways throughout the story. Perhaps accomplishing his father's quest will bring answers. And of course the real challenge for Kubo is to realise that everything he needs is right around him.
Continue reading: Kubo And The Two Strings Review
Kubo is a young boy who lives with his mother. Kubo has always been influences by his vivid imagination and he's able to use magic spells to bring his stories to life to entertain the local towns folk. One night the winds change and Kubo finds himself being haunted by surrounding and characters that he's seen before - monsters, witches and devil like creatures from his stories.
With little other option, Kubo's mother casts a spell on Kubo and sends him on a mission to find his father's armour. She doesn't leave her son alone though, she also brings a protector to life whose sole purpose is to protect the little boy. The only thing is Kubo's protector doesn't look human, she's a monkey who won't take any nonsense from the young boy.
As they journey together, Kubo and Monkey meet another companion called Beetle. Monkey is reluctant to take in the new cohort but the boy is taken in by Beetles tales and knowledge of his father. Armed with his magical shamisen (a musical instrument) Kubo must battle demons and ancient gods to resolve the mystery of his father's life and death.