We’ve had plenty of animated feature films to look forward to this year, from the stellar “Zootopia”, to the mediocre “The Angry Birds Movie”, to the critically lauded “Finding Dory“. And now, you can add another one to your list – “Kubo And The Two Strings”.
Is the movie good, though? Well, we’re here to answer your question.
“Kubo And The Two Strings” is mainly a story of perseverance, loyalty, and love. Set in fantastical Japan, it relates the tale of humble and kindhearted Kubo who ekes out a living by telling stories to people in the marketplace of his seaside town.
His stories are unique, as he brings his origami papers to life under the influence of his shamisen, a 3-stringed Japanese musical instrument. Kubo’s stories often revolve around Hanzo, Kubo’s late father.
However, his relatively calm life is shattered when Kubo accidentally disobeys his mother and summons 2 spirits from his past who harbour a vendetta. His mother perishes in a bid to save him and he’s left with Monkey, a little wooden monkey charm brought to life by his mother’s last bit of magic. Although confused, Kubo and Monkey trudge on and stumble upon Beetle, a samurai who claims to be Hanzo’s apprentice.
Now on the run, the reluctant trio are forced to combine their forces in a thrilling quest to look for Kubo’s father’s set of undefeatable armour, the only thing able to protect Kubo from the spirits summoned by his evil grandfather, The Moon King.
“Kubo And The Two Strings” is filled with a star-studded cast, most notably, Charlize Theron (“Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Hancock”); Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike” and “The Wolf Of Wall Street”); Ralph Fiennes (“Harry Potter” series and “Schindler’s List”); Rooney Mara (“The Social Network” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”); and George Takei (“Star Trek” series and “Oblivion”).
With so many household names, the audience would expect a stellar movie. Sorry to say, it started off promising, but the movie soon fell prey to predictability and we found ourselves struggling to focus. Boy lives a happy life, boy meets obstacles, boy faces his demons, boy emerges victorious; the movie followed a standard plot formula which has been done to death, and it did not offer anything new to the genre.
The movie felt like it was targeted for kids instead of adults, and the narrative felt forced at times. It was also extremely forgettable. There were indeed a couple of plot twists in the movie, and the 1st was well executed. We certainly did not see it coming and it gave us a good surprise. Unfortunately, it gave us an indication of what was going to happen in the future, and when the 2nd plot twist was presented, it felt stale.
This is not to say that the movie was without its good qualities. One of the saving graces of the movie was the characters. From the lovable Kubo, to the stern and serious Monkey, to the humorous and forgetful Beetle; all of them were etched into our minds long after the movie ended. We found ourselves missing the no-nonsense teachings of Monkey, often ridiculous antics of Beetle, and never-say-die attitude of Kubo.
While most movies focus only on the main characters and neglects the side characters, “Kubo And The Two Strings” does not follow the mould. The old lady in the marketplace, the audiences who crowded around Kubo, and the people at the graveyard; they might have had screen times of less than 5 minutes, but they made a strong impression. They had their own unique personalities and the filmmakers did not leave their fates up to the audiences’ imagination. In fact, they played a huge role in the ending and that made them more endearing to the audience.
The stop-motion technique utilised in the movie was one of the better aspects of the movie too. As evident from the movie’s stills provided above, the scenes were life-like and it really felt like we were transported to the Japan of olden times. Many wide shots were used, successfully showcasing the breathtaking landscape of the movie. The characters were well-moulded too, as their expressions never failed to elicit a response from us, no matter if they were overjoyed or dejected.
The title of the movie might strike you as strange, as the shamisen, which aids Kubo throughout his journey, has only 3 strings. The title of the movie was never explicitly explained, but you’ll feel extremely touched when the meaning dawns on you.
Also, don’t forget to stay around after the movie ends, as a short behind-the-scenes clip will show you how one of the major sequences was shot. We were in awe of the effort put into such a complex scene, and it certainly gave us an idea of how much work went into the whole movie.
“Kubo And The Two Strings” opens in cinemas nationwide on 25th August (Thursday).