Unlike regular reviews, micro-reviews are more condensed and only include a single overall rating score.
Kubo and the Two Strings is a recent film by Laika, an animation studio specializing in stop-motion. The movie follows Kubo as he quests with a monkey and a humanoid beetle for his father Hanzo’s lost relics in order to stop his grandfather from taking his sole remaining eye. Oh yeah, and he can manipulate origami with the power of his shamisen.
The most impressive thing about this movie is the animation. Laika always does a fantastic job with the stop motion, and this movie is no slouch. It just looks incredible, simple as that. It’s a refreshing change from the increasingly similar look of most other companies’ animated films.
Kubo also boasts some surprisingly engaging action sequences. The fight against Kubo’s aunts during the second act is particularly well choreographed. I don’t remember the last time I was really impressed by an animated film’s fight scene, so this was a nice treat.
The story is the weakest part of the movie, but it’s by no means a detriment. Simply put, the movie lacks enough foundation to carry everything, as the details regarding Kubo’s origins and the actual reasons his grandfather Raiden wants his eye almost seem like afterthoughts. There is a lot to be explored regarding those elements, but the movie instead focuses more on themes of familial bonds (which is strange considering the lack of bonds between the three sisters). Kubo seems to tell the story it wanted to tell, but there was a much grander story left mostly untouched.
All in all, Kubo is a stunning film that really just needed an extended runtime. It is thoroughly enjoyable all the way through, despite the ending being a little disappointing in the way Raiden is defeated. The giant skeleton scene towards the middle of the film does border a little on being an unnecessary detour, but it’s a fun sequence all the same. In true Laika fashion, Kubo is a refreshing departure from more typical animated feature storylines and manages to be both light and solemn at the same time.
Kubo and the Two Strings
- Splendid stop motion animation and voice talent
- Grim yet heartfelt story is refreshing and fun
- Monkey versus the Sisters fight
- Does not cop out on heavier themes
- Incorporation of Bon festivals as a plot device
- Some story elements are glossed over
- Beetle can be a little too absent-minded at times
- Climax is a little disappointing considering the build-up
- Sisters are sadly underwritten