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Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Reviewed by on Aug 19, 2016
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Check out Kidzworld’s movie review of Kubo and the Two Strings. Will this tale of love, family and adventure thrill you? Is the combination of stop motion, CGI and standard animation truly magical?

By: Lynn Barker

Tween Kubo and his mom are in hiding. To earn food, Kubo goes into the local village each day and tells magical stories using origami figures that really come to life! See Kubo and his mom are magical folks but some of their relatives are on the dark side and want Kubo to join them there. Can he learn to control and use his magic to stay in the light?

Kubo is delighted that Beetle is joining the questKubo is delighted that Beetle is joining the questCourtesy of Focus Features

A One-Eyed Baby

In ancient Japan on a massive, turbulent sea, a young mother uses magic to plow through the waves to protect her baby. They are washed ashore and we see that the baby has only one eye.

Kubo travels to the village belowKubo travels to the village below

Scruffy Street Urchin

Eleven years later, the baby is now a tween named Kubo (voice of Art Parkinson) who lives in a cave with his depressed and forgetful mom and makes a daily living by enchanting villagers with his truly magical gift of telling adventure tales with the use of paper origami figures, that come to life when Kubo plays his 3 stringed shamisen, a lyre-like instrument. Kubo has always been told that he must never be out after dark and returns to the cave to care for his mother.

One of Kubo's amazing origami figuresOne of Kubo's amazing origami figures

Out After Dark

In the hope of contacting his dead warrior father’s spirit, Kubo stays in the village after dark to light a lantern in his honor at a festival. Instead, his lantern brings forth The Sisters (voice of Rooney Mara), his black magic aunts who took his eye when he was a baby! They want the other one for Kubo’s grandfather, the mystical Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) who lives in another realm and wants Kubo to join him there.

The creepy SistersThe creepy Sisters

The Quest

With the aid of magic, Monkey (Charlize Theron) changes from a wooden charm into Kubo’s protector and he learns that, to defeat his enemies, he must find his father’s armor, sword and helmet. On the run and with the aid of Monkey and man-like insect samurai warrior Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), Kubo sets off to solve the mystery of his fallen dad. Through blizzard, under seas, and through a bamboo forest, Kubo hones his magic to battle gods and monsters including his grandfather the Moon King. Along the way he discovers that some things and some people aren’t what they seem.

Beetle takes aim while Kubo and Monkey look onBeetle takes aim while Kubo and Monkey look on

Kubo in his father's magical armorKubo in his father's magical armorCourtesy of Focus Features

Wrapping Up

Kubo and the Two Strings is just magical…in many ways. The stunning stop-motion animation combined with more standard animation and CGI work is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The story is right out of Japanese folklore but is completely relatable for audience members of all ages. It carries a message of love over evil and stresses that memories of lost loved ones carry the greatest magic of all. Tell their stories and they never die. Some of the creatures are a bit scary for your little sis or bro and the tale gets a bit complicated at times for younger filmgoers but it’s worth the watch.

Trekking through a snow-covered landTrekking through a snow-covered landCourtesy of Focus Features

All of the high caliber actors providing voices are excellent as is production and costume design.  Stop motion animation studio Laika is always meticulous is all of its productions (Coraline, Paranorman, Box Trolls etc.) and they really did their research of old Japan for this beautiful production. Stay through the early end credits for the cool Regina Spektor version of Beatle George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Beautiful. You will also see a little bit of Laika stop motion puppetry in action. We go 4 stars. 

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Rating:4

Kubo and the Two Strings PosterKubo and the Two Strings PosterCourtesy of Focus Features

See Kubo and the Two Strings in theaters now!


Have Your Say

Do you believe in magic? Can you fold paper into origami animals? Do you think the spirits of our loved ones who have passed on are still with us? Comment below.