New film from Hillsboro's Laika Studios, "Kubo and the Two Strings," is visually stunning
PORTLAND, Ore. - "Kubo and the Two Strings" is an action adventure story set in 17th century Japan. Our hero is a young boy with a particular talent for telling stories. He uses his shamisen to bring origami characters to life to entertain the people of the nearby village.
Kubo lives with his mother, and takes care of her, but when he discovers his stories are actually true, he suddenly has to set out on a quest. Joining him on the journey are, "monkey," "hanzo," (one of the characters in his stories come to life), and "Beetle."
Their quest to find Kubo's father's armor and defeat his enemies, (his Aunts and Grandfather, The Moon King) take them through many worlds. They travel through ice and snow, a stormy sea, even underwater on their quest. All the worlds make for a visually stunning piece of film. There are lighter moments in this adventure story, but the core is that quest, complete with battles against evil forces, and lots of magic thanks to Kubo's talent.
The story is good, with action, clever characters, some fun and emotion that you may need a tissue for because there's a twist that will get you.
"Kubo" took five years to make, and the details that went into it are mind blowing. Costumes for the puppets, sets that feature details like patterns that you may not even notice, and tiny props for the characters, all created by hand. Not to mention the thousands of interchangeable facial expressions that enable each puppet to speak and emote through stop motion. In addition to all the practical puppets and sets for this epic, Laika upped their game and employed CG characters to fill in gaps in the village population. They also incorporated the computer animation into backgrounds.
Kids will like the movie, although some parts might be a bit scary for the real little ones. The film is packed with star power, from Charlize Theron as "Monkey" to George Takei and Matthew McConaughey as "Beetle."
"Kubo and the Two Strings" is rated "PG." Spend a little extra and see that matinee in 3D. Also make sure you sit through at least a portion of the closing credits. Not only will you hear a beautiful rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but you'll also get a peek behind the curtain at the work that went into creating this film.