This was one of the best films of 2016. It has everything going for it. The story is moving and yet funny at times, animation is great and the voice work is top notch. Good for all ages though there are some rather intense moments for the very young. One of those rare films that the entire family can sit down an enjoy.
Living a quiet and sheltered existence with his mother (Charlize Theron – The Fate of the Furious, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) is not exactly what preteen Kubo (Art Parkinson – Dracula: Untold, San Andreas) has in mind. He dreams of something more. Something more than life outside of the remote cave they live in. He can’t leave though as his father is deceased and his mother is unwell. Kubo seems trapped.
The only time he spends in the ‘outside’ world is when he goes into town and entertains the townsfolk with his stories, music and magic papers. He does this and then rushes home before it gets dark as his mother has warned him against this. This is because her sisters (Rooney Mara – Carol, The Social Network) are searching for the young boy looking to take away the one good eye he has left.
One evening he gets caught up with the idea of communicating with his dead father and stays out late. He is no longer safe. The sisters are after him. His mother comes and saves him. With her last bit of magic she sends him off with the instructions to find his father’s magical armour.
Kubo’s quest is aided by two companions – a Monkey (Charlize Theron) and a Beetle (Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar, The Wolf of Wall Street). On the quest he and his new friends are going to have battle both gods and monsters.
Stop motion animation is a truly a treat for the eyes. It takes its cues from Japanese ink wash painting and origami. But mostly ukiyo-e, a wood block style. Laika film studio is known for stop motion having produced films like Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. The level of artistry in this type of animation is high. It adds a dimension to what you are watching. Adds to the story being told.
Besides the way it looks, the score is also mesmerizing. Music is an important part of the story and helps to tell it.
Unlike many animated films there is plenty of attention paid to the characters. Even the villains. They are truly scary. Good and bad characters are both memorable.
In tone it is rather melancholy with universal themes that all can relate to. It can be scary and dark, but also filled with love and humour. Despite the fact that it is for all ages it does not spoon feed the audience. Even young audience members are expected to think things through. There is a complexity to it that you have to work your way through.
- Introduction by Director/Producer Travis Knight
- Japanese Inspiration
- Mythological Monsters
- Braving the Elements
- The Redemptive and Healing Power of Music
- Epilogue by Director/Producer Travis Knight
-Corners of the Earth
-The Myth of Kubo