‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ Is Movie Magic at Its Finest (FILM REVIEW)


There comes a time in every adult’s life where they realize the magic that once made up those wonderful stories, ideas, Christmas mornings, and even their imaginations, has been sucked away by the world around us. It’s not the world’s fault, necessarily. We taught it to be this way. That’s why when that magic creeps back in the form of spectacular fiction, we must acknowledge the achievement, and use it to teach the world of our old ways.

For Kubo and the Two Strings, the magic is not only real, but takes a hold of a world in which it’s almost commonplace. For some children, it may be quite frightening; there are scenes that Tim Burton would approve of, and Guillermo del Toro would applaud. The whole story of Kubo is subtly narrated by the protagonist himself. His life starts out quite precariously as we see his mother fleeing from something. It isn’t until her tiny boat is wrecked and her powers are displayed quite breathtakingly that we find out Kubo even exists. As she pulls him close to her on the beach under the pale moonlight, the dark blue of the night invades their space, and she silently makes a promise to herself that she’ll never put him in danger again, something we see in her demeanor and eyes.

Kubo quickly grows, and we learn of his love for his mother, her problems with depression and fear, and even Kubo’s magical tendencies. It’s all so wonderfully wrapped up in the storyline that none of it distracts from the humanity that the story is really about. A mother’s love, and fear for the safety of her child. A child’s unknown past, and need for his own story as he yearns to know more about his father, and what happened to have put him in this world that isn’t quite enough.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t this animated? Animated movies don’t have depth.” Shut up, I’m talking. Part of what makes Kubo so stunning is the legitimate scope of emotion and profundity that these characters are full of. Imagine Miyazaki, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Pixar all got together to animate a movie together. They decide Miyazaki will handle the story line, Day-Lewis will flesh out the emotions and character building, and Pixar will handle the gut punching like they did in Toy Story 3. Are you crying yet? Just thinking about it? Because Kubo achieves this flawlessly.

Without giving too much away, because it would be a tragedy for a viewer to walk into this and not get to experience the full depth of the movie on their own, know that for the most part it’s a pretty standard adventure story. Boy has problem, boy seeks solution, boy learns about himself and the world. It’s everything that happens in between that makes it so fun to experience. There’s magical creatures, talking animals, dancing origami, and then Kubo himself. He’s so full of light and wonder, and we get the privilege of watching his powers grow as he seeks the solution to his problem.

If I had to give one complaint, it would be that the 3D was too dark for what’s happening on screen. There’s nuanced details that we miss because of the 3D glasses, like the average yet sweeping backgrounds used in each scene, and the crease of an eye as it begins to tear up. During the first ten minutes, I skipped the glasses so I wouldn’t miss anything. As the movie goes on, the brightness grows, and it makes more sense.

If you have a child, if you are one yourself; if you need a little wonder in your life; if you need a good set of fiction to off shoot that crappy day; if you need a reminder that the world isn’t all garbage. Whatever your reason, go see Kubo and the Two Strings. You’ll thank yourself when your dreams are invaded with tiny dancing figures, and sense of magical wonder you might not have noticed you missed.

Kubo and the Two Strings is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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