Kubo & the Two Strings,
directed by Travis Knight
(Focus, 2016)

Kubo & the Two Strings is a beautifully rendered stop-motion movie, and about as original a story as I can recall seeing.

The movie creates its own folklore, set in feudal Japan in a time of magic and monsters. Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) is a one-eyed boy, half-blinded by his grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes), and saved by his mother (Charlize Theron) from his wrath. Now living on the outskirts of a small, poor village, Kubo takes care of his mother who is half mad from grief after the loss of her husband.

Kubo has a certain power with music, words and paper, bringing origami creations to life to tell a never-ending story to the people of his village. But one day, eager to commune with the spirit of his father, he stays out past sunset and the Moon King sees him. The king sends his remaining daughters, the Sisters (both voiced by Rooney Mara), to bring Kubo to his fate. And Kubo, whose mother fell protecting him, has only an animated monkey charm (also voiced by Theron) and a cursed former samurai (Matthew McConnaughey) to protect him, along with his shamisen (a musical instrument) and the mystical arms and armor his father concealed to help him.

It's a striking new mythology, an epic in stop-motion animation that is gorgeous to watch and powerful to absorb. It's funny and moving, and well worth your attention.

review by
Tom Knapp

16 September 2017

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