Monday, August 29, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Can't wait for the sequel; Kubo and the Six Strings, and hear him rock out some tasty licks!

Kubo and the Two Strings – 4 out of 5

I’m a pretty big fan of the production company Laika.  They do some of the most amazing stop-motion animation that has come out in a long time and have continuously proven that this method is far from something that is on its way to extinction thanks to computer animation.  So, needless to say, when I saw the first trailer for their latest film Kubo and the Two Stings I was pretty excited.  Well, I finally got around to seeing it but does it live up to their previous products like Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls?

                                                                                                    Laika/Focus Features
"Ya'll ready to rock?!?"

In ancient Japan, Kubo (Art Parkinson) lives in a cave on a mountain with his ill mother.  When she is collected enough, she constantly warns Kubo about never staying out at night or his grandfather; the Moon King, will find him and try to claim him.  One day, Kubo accidentally stays out late and he is discovered by his mischievous family.  Using the last of her magic, his mother sends him away and to be protected by Monkey (Charlize Theron).  Together, they set out to collect the pieces of a magical armor and sword that can help them stop his grandfather.  Along the way, they meet a quirky samurai named Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) but little can prepare them for how dangerous their journey will become and what mysteries will be unraveled along the way.

                                                                                                     Laika/Focus Features
You can pick your friends but you can't pick your team that you end up with in order
to track down ancient and powerful armor that is needed to stop a ruthless

The strongest aspect about the film is the fact it is absolutely visually stunning.  Laika perfectly marries the traditional stop-motion animation with some computer animation and it is totally seamless.  They work in concert to create backgrounds, settings and characters that are all amazing to look at with the old eyeballs.  It’s incredibly astounding to see this company constantly out-do itself and keep setting the bar higher and higher.

                                                                                                     Laika/Focus Features
This is how I imagine seaweed to look and that's why I freak out when it
touches my feet.

                                                                         Laika/Focus Features
"Watch me shoot this arrow...alright, alright, alright."
Additionally, the film has a great cast who does a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life.  Everyone really nails down what their character needs to be and is able to reflect that in their voice acting.  For example, Rooney Mara is playing the creepy aunts of Kubo, known as The Sisters, and her voice is downright unnerving or there’s Matthew McConaughey who is just absolutely a blast as the goofy samurai Beetle.  This, and the animation, is where Kubo sings and sings beautifully; however, it’s in other areas where the film fails to live up to its predecessors.

                                                                                                    Laika/Focus Features
Seriously, twins are creepy pretty much all the time.

While the story for Kubo is definitely interesting and has all it needs for wonder and awe, the emotion just fell flat.  Too often, the journey the team was on felt very by-the-numbers and the reveals were so obvious that it was hard to get emotionally invested in what was happening.  I understand that this film is meant to be your basic hero's journey and, in being that, will follow a predictable path but what occurs feels only serviceable. The film is enough of a visual splendor that these shortcomings can make up for where the story fails but it did leave me feeling a tad on the “meh” side when the credits rolled.

                                                                                                     Laika/Focus Features
Strange ghost snakes.  Why did it have to be strange ghost snakes?

Kubo and the Two Strings is an absolutely gorgeous film that is truly a testament to what Laika can create in the world of animation but it just didn’t have the story or entertainment factor that their other features contained.  There are amusing moments, touching scenes and some cool action sequences but none of them came away as memorable as the funny, heartfelt, and wicked moments that their other films have offered.  The whole thing just felt more style than substance.  Even though it’s not their best film, it still is pretty impressive from a technical standpoint.

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