Kubo and the Two Strings

I’ve seen most of Laika’s other works, Coraline, Paranorman, The Boxtrolls, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. They have their own way of storytelling that is pushing it a bit for kids. Their films aren’t comedies, they’re more drama with some nice action, and they all tell stories that aren’t as cliched as other kids films. Kubo and the Two Strings is no different.

And of course they use stop motion, so they’re really doing this because they want to. I like the peeks into the behind the scenes stuff, showing them working on the puppets and all that. It really shows how much work they do. I can’t even imagine how long the big shots take, having to move each puppet in there.

Anyway, onto Kubo. The story is about a boy, Kubo, that is suddenly thrust into having to find three magical items to save his eye. His grandfather is a mythical being and wants Kubo to live with him. But he wants Kubo’s eye first and will not take no for an answer.

Helping Kubo out are two fun characters that I enjoyed a lot. There’s monkey, the serious and easily exasperated guardian of the group. She has a lot of work to do to keep Kubo and Beetle on track. The other character is Beetle. He’s the primary source of humor in the movie, but he’s not without his share of tragedies. Really, Beetle acts all goofy like that because his mind has been wracked by magic.

This movie can be pretty grim, but it also boasts some fantastic visuals. The eastern setting gives them a lot of wonderful imagery to work with. Even the town is great to watch. Then there are all the places they visit. Each one is really good.

The villains of the movie are great, too. They’re creepy and vicious for no real reason to Kubo, but it works really well. It just shows that they don’t consider him worth explaining things to. They just want to get their mission done and over with, all with a deadly exactness. The actions scenes of this movie is great.

This film boasts a darker and perhaps more unconventional story, especially for kids. I really enjoy it, though. It will make you feel bad, for probably all of the characters involved, even the villains. And there are some really funny parts with Beetle.

Here are some spoilers. Some major spoilers. I am talking ending stuff. Don’t read if you want to experience Kubo for yourself.

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When I say this film is dark, man is it dark. First, Kubo loses his dad early. Then his mom. Sure, you’re thinking that’s Disney stuff. Happens all the time. But then, both of his current gaurdians bite it, too. That’s right, both Monkey and Beetle die. And they are about as on-screen as you can get in a kids movie, meaning just off-screen but in the same vicinity.

Kubo then has to face the final villain alone in a great sequence.

Like all of Laika’s movies, it really is a different experience, one that I enjoyed.

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