Stop E-motion: A review of Kubo and the Two Strings

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Ever since animation studio Laika wowed us all with the wonderful Coraline a few years ago, the studio has not just managed to sustain the impeccable quality of their past films but have gone amongst the likes of Pixar, Disney and Studio Ghibli as masters of animation.

The work they put into each film, animating even the tiniest detail in stop motion, has made them a beloved, but still relatively cult animation studio that despite their critical successes and adoration from their legions of fans has seen dwindling numbers at the box office.

With each new film, there’s only been four, I see people often talk about how this studio must be supported and that people need to go and see their films. As is the passion and breadth of beauty in each picture, Laika is still fighting as hard as they can, even when Animation is in a bit of a golden age, Laika still always stand out from the rest.

Kubo is no different, this is one of the best films they’ve ever produced and for two hours you are enchanted by the sheer awe-inspiring beauty of what you are witnessing.

From the stunning animation work to the beautiful score, all inspired by Japanese culture, Kubo and the Two Strings weaves a beautiful story into themes of growing up and family whilst never sacrificing its gentle humour and passion for folklore.

I don’t want to say too much because I think it’s a film that you really need to see in the cinema to appreciate it but I will say that this is a film that tells a relatable story in a magical background and when it wants to pull at your heartstrings, it does so with delicacy but no less passion.

In a year of films that sacrifice emotion for spectacle, Kubo nails everything that’s thrown at it and by the end, it will leave you emotionally and creatively satisfied and cleansed. This is the sort of film that, like controlling a marionette, pulls different strings of emotion, humour and action and does so with perfect balance.

If there was only one thing I have a problem with, it’s that the middle act does experience a little bit of a lull. Kubo whisks you off into a different film for a bit and though it’s never bad, I did feel like the road trip/quest part of the film felt a little too generic as the story became a series of colourful set pieces.

It’s still wonderful and lovingly crafted but after a stunning first act, I wanted something a little more original.

However, the third act makes up for it and there’s a resolution at the end that is genuinely one of the most heartening scenes of the year. If there wasn’t Moana on the way, I’d say this is perhaps a shoe-in for an Oscar for Best Animated Picture.

In the end, Kubo is a gorgeous film with a wonderful cast, beautiful message, charming humour and heartbreaking emotion. It’s got more heart and soul in its little plasticine finger than a thousand Suicide Squads or Jason Bournes and I want everyone to see it at least twice just so Laika can make more films.

Rating: A-

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