Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Kubo is a young boy with the magical ability to make origami come to life with his music. Using his animated paper figures, he tells the story of his father, a great warrior who searched for three magical pieces of armour but was ultimately slain by the evil Moon King (who happens to be Kubo’s granddad from his mother’s side). But after a run-in with his evil aunts (yeah, this family’s really screwed up), Kubo must take on his father’s quest and find the armour himself.

From the animation studio that brought us Boxtrolls and ParaNorman, this is not only Laika’s best movie yet, it’s also their most ambitious; an epic adventure across a landscape inspired by Japan and its geography, with an incredible variety of visually imaginative characters, beautiful locations, and action set pieces.

There’s a touch of Ray Harryhausen in one particular scene, where our band of heroes fight a giant skeleton, and Laika’s blend of stop motion and CGI is as magical and engrossing today as Harryhausen’s films were in their time, each creature dynamic and terrifying, each character tangible and emotive. It’s honestly astonishing; this is the only film I recall seeing where a bit of a behind-the-scenes featurette has been included in the end credits, and yet it doesn’t come across as at all pretentious or jarring, so unique and impressive are the methods used.

But this technical brilliance would be nothing without a good story, and Laika have achieved that by giving us a good old hero’s journey epic, with wise mentors, mystical MacGuffins, and evil witches aplenty. Yet in a manner that made me think of classic Star Wars, it has a tight-knit family story set against this epic backdrop, with all the major characters tied into Kubo’s tale in a way that makes the film heart-wrenching as well as thrilling.

If there’s anything to criticise, it’s that the comic relief could be a little stronger – Matthew McConaughey’s dopey samurai Beetle provides a few chuckles, but the script could do with more of that; the attempts to make him a double act with the Monkey sometimes fall flat, perhaps due to a miscast Charlize Theron, who plays everything incredibly straight.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t like animated movies but this one sounds good to me. The story line seems different and very interesting. Thanks for posting your review.