A stop-motion animated movie, that combines Japanese and western storytelling, Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic, visually stunning kids film that treats its family audience with respect and intelligence.
The movie is from US animation studio Laika, who were behind dark children’s film Coraline and the more recent Boxtrolls among others.
Kubo is a one-eyed Japanese boy living on an island with his mother. The pair arrived there when he was a baby, running away from something terrible.
Magic runs strong in their family, and when their past catches up with them Kubo embarks on a quest to find pieces of a mythical armour, with an enchanted monkey and samurai beetle as guardians.
As the quest continues, we learn more about Kubo’s past, and see his own magical abilities grow stronger. His magic manifests itself via his guitar-like instrument, bringing to life sheets of paper in a kind of origami sorcery.
The film switched between intense action, comedy, drama, and some genuinely creepy set-pieces.
The villains are stunningly realised with a cold, menacing presence, and the scene when Kubo’s evil aunts are revealed is as mesmerising as it is frightening.
My daughter adored this movie – despite the fact she spent the majority of it cuddled up on my lap, frequently hiding her face and peeking out at the screen. The same thing happened with a dad & daughter sitting next to us. I heard more than a few upset kids elsewhere in the cinema.
But this is not to put you off from taking your kids – this is absolutely a children’s film, and one that I highly recommend. In terms of our experience watching Kubo, it’s worth noting we saw it on one of the biggest and loudest screens in the country (Empire, Leicester Square) which likely heightened the tension.
It’s great when a film comes out of the blue and blows you away like this. Stunning animation, sophisticated storytelling, fascinating characters and a great voice cast (including Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and even George Takei).
Go see Kubo and the Two Strings. Take your kids. They’ll be delighted, enchanted, and possibly a little terrified, and they will love you for it.