Those who know me will know that it is rare for me to cry in a movie. Kubo and the Two Strings, the best animated film of 2016 (sorry Disney and Pixar) did something even rarer: it had me crying while I left the theater. I can’t remember the last time that happened. It is one of those movies that, once it is over, you know you want to see it again.
I will tread lightly, because the film is one of those that has surprises that I cannot reveal (I would find it hard to forgive myself). The story tells of Kubo (Art Parkinson), an child of about 11 or so who is under the protection of his mother. He is not allowed out at night, or his Grandfather and Aunts will catch him. His Grandfather took out Kubo’s left eye as a baby, but his father died protecting him so he could keep his other eye. Eventually, they find him, and, with the help of a monkey and a beetle, Kubo is on a quest to find the missing armor of his late father to protect himself from his Grandfather.
Other vocals in the movie are done by Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, as well as Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and George Takei. I will not say who plays who, as it does give away some plot points. What I will say is that this film is another great example of how voice acting can be done so well that (for the most part) we are not even thinking about who is playing the characters at all.
Now for the animation. Words cannot do it justice, but I will try. It is simply stellar. There are scenes where Kubo shows his magic of making paper do what he wants. Origami on film never looked so awesome.
Parents, the film is for any age, but warning: it can get a little scary (even I was saying “woah” at times). Still, if they are up for it, and as long as your kids can sit through a movie, they will be fine.
What I like the most about Kubo and the Two Strings is it’s courage. It’s courage to be risky with different animation. It’s courage to make a family film a little darker than most others. It’s courage to tell a story that is original. It’s courage to have an ending that is not what you may expect.
It’s courage to be sensational.
This is easily one of the year’s very best films.
Overall: Four and a Half Stars **** 1/2