Review: Kubo and the Two Strings

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Oslavi Linares for Cinetalk.net

Kubo and the Two Strings, the latest Laika Studios (Paranorman) feature is a children’s epic and a humanist fable in 3D and real 3D. Set in Japanese lore, it begins as a folktale and unravels  the destiny of  Kubo the child of a forbidden love.  Kubo entertains the villagers by day  and flees  the sky by night, until he is forced to fight  the celestial realm that took his family and his right eye. For his quest, he gets the help of a motherly monkey, a cursed samurai, an origami warrior, and the magic within his soul.

The graceful narrative   unfolds, like the hero’s origami,  in vivid landscapes, fluid transitions with a great sense of humor. The tale features dreamy images and stereoscopic stop motion  that enhance the physicality of the puppet animation adding 3D to real 3D.

Skillfully combined with digital effects,  the quality of movements and characteristics of physical puppets is preserved. It provides dynamic fighting sequences and detailed gestures. The extensive and expressive use of these textures with paper figurines provides the feeling of «believability»  adding a  ship made of leafs and various other features to the characters.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a  movie for children (great and small) with a family utopia, but ultimately it is the dismissal of the said utopia that turns the story from conventional to archetypal. The whole struggle is the fight between the divine order and the mundane but human world; the ending puts this fable to the level of  promethean myth. It is a humanist fable  fitting  the materiality of its dazzling stereoscopic stop motion. 

*** Kubo is in theaters this August 19th.


Note : The closing sequence is a good piece of animation and includes some footage from the making of Kubo.

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