KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
FILM REVIEW - KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
Running Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: 9th September 2016
Directed by: Travis Knight
Voice Cast: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara
Story by: Shannon Tindle, Marc Haines
Director of Cinematography: Frank Passingham
A visual feast.
“If you must blink, do it now” warns the voiceover at the beginning of Kubo and the Two Strings. It’s a carnival hawker trick to draw in the crowd with the promise of much thrills and excitement to come. And Kubo mostly delivers.
The ringmaster of this tale is 12-year-old Kubo (Art Parkinson), a one-eyed busker with a unique gift and complicated ancestry. When Kubo was an infant, his maternal grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) plucked out his eye, and now he’s returned to take the other one. To defeat the Moon King, the one-eyed hero embarks on a quest to recover three magical pieces of armour, with the help of a talking monkey (Charlize Theron) and a giant man/cockroach (Matthew McConaughey).
Drawing inspiration from ancient Japanese folklore, this ambitious offering from stop-motion studio Laika (Coraline, ParaNorman) is startlingly original with some stunning visuals. Director Travis Knight and his team of model makers have crafted a beautiful world of epic scope and painstaking detail. Kubo is a visual feast of gumption and power chords.
Sadly, this visual achievement is let down by some ropey vocal performances. As the exuberant Kubo, the young Parkinson is suitably enthusiastic. But many of the overly-colloquial jokes misfire badly, and much of the humour falls flat. This isn’t helped by a near-comatose performance from Theron, and McConaughey is plainly baffled by the whole thing.
For a children’s movie, Kubo is quite brave in its approach. It doesn’t pander to its young audience and credits them with the ability to deal with a little darkness. It also broaches a number of difficult themes – such as grief and depression – without sugar coating problems or bottling it with a neat resolution.
A word of warning – avoid 3D screenings of Kubo and the Two Strings at all costs. The detail, colour and wonderful craftsmanship has been buried under a dingy grey fog that turns day into night. It’s like looking at Michelangelo’s Statue of David with a brown paper bag over its head.