BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
“If you must blink, do it now.”
That’s how our hero begins each of his stories. It may as well describe this movie. With one blink, you could miss the stunning animation in Kubo and the Two Strings, another home run from the masters of stop-motion animation Laika.
Set in feudal Japan, this folk tale centres around a little one eyed boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) with the ability to control origamis by strumming his two string Shamisen guitar. By day, he uses his gifts to tell stories to the villagers. By night, he cares for his comatose mother. That all changes when he’s stalked by two creepy, masked twin sisters (Rooney Mara). To protect her son, Kubo’s mom sacrifices herself to save him. From her sacrifice births Monkey (Charlize Theron), a former wooden charm who becomes the boy’s guardian. Joined by a samurai beetle (Matthew McConaughey), Monkey and Kubo are sent on a mystical journey to find the armour of Kubo’s father, find out who sent the sisters and stop him.
This is the directorial debut of Travis Knight, Laika president and CEO. As with other Laika films, Kubo and the Two Strings dazzles with is stunning stop motion animation. We are treated to amazing battle scenes between our heros and the sisters as well as mystical creatures like the giant skeleton with katanas on its head. Plus, the animation emerces itself into Japanese culture, with the simple village and the beautiful image of floating lanterns. Matching the animation is the storytelling. It’s a pretty simple fantasy story, but it’s still engaging with mythological fantasy creatures.