Kubo and the Two Strings (September 2016)

When I went to see Kubo, I was dead sick. Probably the worst day I possibly could have chosen to drag myself out of bed to see a lively animated movie. But the fact that I was a walking snot waterfall with a backpack full of used tissues and cough drops didn’t prevent me in the slightest from enjoying this film. I don’t have much to say about it, actually; usually I like to fill this space with bitter criticism, but I genuinely enjoyed this one.

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For a movie written/directed by non-Japanese people, the details of the plot and design seemed to mesh nicely with Japanese folklore and mythology. I’m not an expert on either of these subjects, though, so I may not be the best person to consult about how true the script is to the source material. However, I’m not completely useless; I did read the credits. They managed to sneak a lot of actors by me; Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara. I noticed that George Takei seemed to be the only well-known Asian actor of the lot, which is notable, this being an entire feature based on Asian folklore. It wouldn’t have been too difficult to make different casting choices for the main characters, so that’s not a point in this movie’s favor.

On the flip side, the plot of Kubo kept me interested the whole way through. The characters ranged from lovable and hilarious to downright creepy (Anyone else get Exorcist-level shivers whenever the Moon Sisters showed up onscreen? I did.) The twist (although a good one) was a touch predictable, but I’m willing to forgive this movie for its engaging characters and undeniable aesthetic appeal. As I expected from the studio behind Coraline, Laika’s animation was gorgeous and fluid and really had a character of its own. For real, if I wrapped this movie up and wore it like a three-piece suit, they’d vote me Homecoming King. Just wonderful.

GRADE: A

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