A Pretentious Film Review: Kubo and the Two Strings
What's Kubo and the Two Strings About?
Kubo is the tale of a young boy who was robbed of his left eye as a baby. Although he has been trying to live a peaceful life since that day, things go awry and Kubo's two aunts destroy his village and murder his mother. In a final attempt to protect Kubo, his mother uses the last of her magic to save him. Kubo's two aunts chase after him with the intention of extracting his right eye as well, so Kubo has to find his father's armor in order to protect himself and get revenge.
Considering that Kubo presents itself as a kids movie, such a synopsis might sound too dark for your kids. However, the combination of great writing, beautiful visuals, and an interesting plot make Kubo one of the best films in years.
After watching the trailers for Kubo, it seemed like another silly kids movie pandering to what children would find entertaining. From the coming attractions, the dialogue seemed forced and unimpressive. However, what was released was the complete opposite of what we were shown in trailers. Character interactions felt natural, comedy was childish but heart-warming, and most of all, the writing was superb. Whenever any of the characters interacted with each other, the reactions and how they would continue the conversation felt natural and pragmatic. Scenes that seemed lame in the trailers were actually well-done and lovable in the final product. Not only that, but the voice actors do a fantastic job at delivering their lines, and in certain scenes, it'll give you goosebumps.
Sure, it can be cliche and silly at times, but, that only added to the experience. Scenes that could be considered cliche and silly were actually quite charming. It evoked a sense of childhood innocence and sets the scene for a clash between his dark reality and the nostalgic purity he wants to hold on to.
It's safe to say that LAIKA has outdone themselves this time, after the creepy and lovable Coraline was released, we witnessed what stop motion is capable of and how you can create a serious film out of such a crazy technique. After Kubo, stop motion has truly realized its potential, providing some of the most visually awe-inspiring scenes in history. The amount of time, effort, and courage required to create such a grand project just makes me shiver. It's a perfect example of how hard work pays off in the end. Well, at least it paid off critically. Although Kubo is receiving rave reviews, it isn't making as much money as any of us had hoped. No one is stopping by the theaters to see Kubo, instead, they're spending their money on shitty films like Suicide Squad. It's unfortunate that films make money based on how popular they are rather than how good they are. LAIKA produced a quality film yet will most likely make very little cash from it. A lot of popular films nowadays are awful and these studios get huge wads of cash so they think "Hey, it doesn't have to be good as long as it's a D.C. movie! We'll still make lots of money even if it's garbage!".
My heart goes out to everyone at LAIKA who spent all of their time and effort on such a huge project like Kubo. I hope that you guys get the popularity you deserve one day.
The next time you head to the theaters, spend your money on Kubo rather than purchasing a ticket for any of the other movies out right now.
A Rare Kids Movie
LAIKA does a good job of redefining what a "children's" film is. Nowadays, if you were to select a majority of the kids movies, they all pander to children and only children. They usually have no room for enjoyment from adults, unless it's a Pixar or Disney film. Even then, these films still try to be lighthearted, but with certain devices that adults could enjoy. However, Kubo is the rare case where it's a blast for both kids and adults alike. Grown ups will appreciate the dark and fascinating plot while kids will enjoy the childish humor and silly scenes.
LAIKA has always been the ones to stamp "PG" on their films but still try to make them as grim and mature as possible.
Kubo is most certainly a good movie, but it still has its fair share of problems. There are certain twists that feel weirdly done and certain plot points that don't seem right. It's not necessarily a logic problem, although there are certain logic problems that concern me. It's more that the way they go about it feels a bit forced. Giving away any details about said plot points would be a spoiler, but you might see what I mean if you watch the movie for yourself.
Additionally, the ending seemed slightly rushed, even though it was a great ending on paper. It felt like five or so more minutes of extra scenes would turn a good ending into a fantastic ending.
Another problem would be that Kubo's actions towards the end should have had a few more details. It certainly was obvious what had happened, but the film could have provided more insight on the situation rather than having him rush to the final battle right away. Ironically, the fact that he did rush to the final battle right away is what made the scene so charming. It showed how enraged and furious he was about what had happened, and in turn, made the scene more interesting. This could have still been delved upon a bit more, but it was still well-done, regardless.
Show, Don't Tell
The themes Kubo explores are interesting enough to consider. There are a lot of symbolic scenes in the film, and the movie constantly foreshadows what will occur. The plot twists may have been anticipated by some, but, these twists were still interesting. Although the plot seems a bit coincidental, it still makes sense due to the narrative of the film.
Kubo also does an excellent job of showing rather than telling. Many films have problems with telling us certain details rather than showing us and letting us figure it out on our own. Kubo does explain a few things to you, but for the most part, it explains itself through visual techniques. It's commonly thought that there's nothing wrong with telling people through description, however, it's much more fun to see.
"Show, don't tell" is a method many writers use which lets the consumers experience the piece of work through actions, words, thoughts, feelings and senses. It creates a sense of immersion and absorbs the viewer or reader into the work. It's the most effective way to create a lovable and immersive world. Kubo does this well, showing us everything, rather than telling us everything.
Kubo and the Two Strings is a surprisingly well executed film. The story is very interesting, the characters feel natural, lovable, well-written, and the visuals are incredibly beautiful. The comedy might be childish but it still evokes a laugh and even when it doesn't, it feels natural enough to enjoy. While the comedy might be childish, the story is extremely dark and grim. The way the film presents itself will make you think you aren't watching a kids film. Instead, it feels like a PG film aimed at adults, even though kids will enjoy it all the same.
Overall, Kubo and the Two strings is one of the best films to be released in years. It's unbelievably impressive and completely awe-inspiring. If you have the cash, go watch Kubo as soon as possible.
I give Kubo and the Two Strings a 7 out of 10
What did you think of Kubo and the Two Strings?
© 2016 Tabari