If one movie can make you believe in the future of stop motion then it’s Travis Knight’s ambitious Kubo and the Two Strings.
Produced by stop-motion animation studio Laika, the film follows the adventures of a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) who must go on the run with a Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), after vengeful spirits from his parent’s past come after him.
First thing’s first: the visuals are amazing. Seriously. More captivating than I ever thought could be accomplished with stop-motion. From the gorgeous opening sequence, which saw Kubo’s mother battling gigantic waves while trying to seek safe passage for her child, to the ambitious fight sequences, every moment was vibrant, moody and a true pleasure to watch.
There’s something to be said about a creative team unafraid to tackle mature themes in an animated film marketed to kids. The most striking things about Kubo is how it embraces its darkest moments, rather than shying away or glossing over them with a song or touch of humour. While my friend expressed his concern that the film might have been too dark for the children in our cinema, I felt the exact opposite. While the titular character has gone through a lot from birth, having to contend with family members who have taken out one of his eyes and eventually come after him for more, there’s plenty of heart to balance everything out. Kubo remains a strong, determined and soulful character throughout, and children and adults alike will love to cheer for him.