By Dylan Carlson Sirvent, ’19
The opening sequences of breathtaking animations, with panoramas of canyons, views of flowing rivers, and luscious forests filling the scenery, offer a sneak peek into the artistic genius “Kubo and the Two Strings.” While the film was Travis Knight’s directorial debut, he is a leading figure in the animation world, having been the lead animator in numerous successful box-office films, “The Boxtrolls”, “ParaNorman”, and “Coraline”. Knight’s vision is unparalleled, haunting yet beautiful, eerie yet sweet, subtle yet innovative. It is the perfect blend of the mysterious and curious.
The film follows Kubo (Art Parkinson), a young Japanese boy with one eye, who had it removed by a vengeful and evil grandfather, the Moon King, who is set on blinding his family from the horrors of humanity and shelter them in his home, the Moon. Kubo and his mom (Charlize Theron) are hiding from him in an isolated island-town. However, one unfortunate night, the Moon King finds Kubo and wreaks havoc on his town. The Moon King’s other two daughters, The Sisters (Rooney Mara), track down Kubo’s mom and kill her. Kubo, alone and afraid, must then follow the mission of his late father, Samurai Hanzo, to find The Armor Impenetrable, The Sword Unbreakable, and The Helmet Invulnerable. Kubo needs the three pieces in order to have a fighting chance against his maleficent grandfather. Through his journey, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron), a magical reincarnation of his late mother, and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a cursed half-man half-beetle who was a protege of Hanzo. The trio eventually face challenges such as a battle against an enormous skeleton, strange underwater hypnotic eyes, and other incredible creatures and monsters. I am not going to delve much deeper into the details and plots of the story, since I am not a horrible person, I do not want to ruin the movie for you.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” is a refreshingly original story that is further pushing the boundaries of animated storytelling. The film integrates the art of origami, the mysticism of floating lanterns, and the breathtaking nature of Japan beautifully and masterfully into these Japanese tale. The film did have certain plot holes and minor timeline errors which were somewhat distracting. While such minor details could be annoying, it does not detract from the incredibly pure and raw story Knight and producing company, Laika, have created. Credit must also go to screenwriters Marc Haimes and Chris Butler who wrote a screenplay that could be read like a poem. The beauty and glory of their screenplay is that it manages to express abstract ideas such as pain, struggle, and forgiveness, in simple enough words and sequences for viewers of all age to understand.
Hopefully, “Kubo and the Two Strings”, marks a transition in the animation world from traditional Disney-modeled stories to more complex, diverse, and meaningful narratives.
I recommend this film to everybody, from babies to teenagers to grandparents. Its story and breathtaking animation are something to behold, don’t miss out.