By Laurie Coker

Rating: A

Kubo and the Two Strings should be seen in 2D. Of course, this is a simple opinion, but the 3D aspect did little to enhance the exceptional animation from the director of Box Trolls and Paranorman, Travis Knight and LAIKA studios. Writers Marc Haimes and Chris Butler weave a visually exciting, action-riddled tale of a young boy coming of age. Filled with magic and messages and set in mystical Japan, the film pleases viewers of all ages, but heed the PG warning, since some aspects might be a bit heavy or frightening to younger children.

Kubo (voiced by Game of Thrones actor Art Parkinson) and his mother (Charlize Theron) stay holed away in a cave home after his grandfather (Ralph Fiennes) and evil aunts (Roony Mara) exact revenge because his mother goes against the family’s sinister ways. Kubo, who entertains himself with origami and his mother’s storytelling, visits the nearby village daily to magically share his mother’s stories with the citizens, but by night, he must return to the cave. After dark, Kubo, who already lost an eye, is at risk of being taken and fully blinded by his grandfather. Caught up in a traditional ceremony for the dead, Kubo accidently lingers after the sun has set, putting into motion a series of events that pits his mother and then his stone monkey (come to life) and an absent-minded beetle-man (Matthew McConaughey) against the menacing powers of his hate-filled family.

The voice talent, which also includes veteran actress Brenda Vacarro and George Takei, might annoy some – my guest deemed named actors unnecessary and distracting – these versatile voices helped in bringing the film’s characters to vivid, animation-enhanced life. To say that Kubo and the Two Strings is striking to watch is an understatement. It is spellbinding and nearly boundless in its beauty and imagery. The pace truly never slows and the writing is crisp – my favorite line came from Beetle – “ If you are called Monkey and I am called Beetle, why isn’t he called Boy?” The story has a unique freshness with a tinge of Japanese lore blended in and creators manage to keep it whimsical amidst the darker elements.

Vibrant and lush images abound and Kubo and the Two Strings offers a pleasing reprieve from a summer filled with thrillers and superheroes. Not only is it worth the price of a ticket, its worthy of ending up in personal video collections. It earns a solid A in my grade book. Perhaps Kubo will return to entertain us again. One can hope.




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