Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Directed by Travis Knight
“Kubo and the Two Strings” is an animated quest movie for the ages—and for all ages. Rich in Japanese culture, quick-witted humor, and vibrant color, “Kubo” goes beyond the mark set by most kid movies and becomes a movie that can be appreciated by adults as much as anybody.
In ancient Japan, Kubo (Art Parkinson) lives with his ailing mother, who tells him stories of his heroic warrior father and of her evil sisters, who disapproved of the man she chose to marry. But at sundown, the evil sisters (both voiced by Rooney Mara) come down from the spirit realm to kidnap Kubo and bring them back to their father. Only Kubo’s mother can save him. But when her magic runs out, Kubo is sent on a quest to find his father’s suit of armor, which will make him strong enough to defeat the evil sisters once and for all. With the help of a talking monkey (Charlize Theron) and a giant beetle-man (Matthew McConaughey), Kubo will face many challenges on the arduous journey.
That “Kubo,” a fantastical folk tale with stop-motion animation, has more real life drama and heart than most live-action movies this year is a testament to the screenwriters’ willingness to tell their story without fear of scaring off their youngest audience members. Intense action and palpable drama puts “Kubo” into a different class of animated movies. But “Kubo” has enough humor to lighten even its heaviest scenes. It strikes a perfect balance. Although 2016 has been one of the most consistent years for animation on record, “Kubo” still tops just about every one of them. And its gorgeous animation style is just another reason why. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is one of the year’s best films, and just at the season when Oscar is starting to take notice.