Join Kubo, his Monkey and a Man-Beetle… type thing, as they set off on an epic adventure. They’re on a quest to discover Kubo’s father’s magical armour and defeat monsters from his past. First he must discover who he is and control his powers before he can defeat the vengeful spirits from his past.
So is it any good?From the opening frame, this movie will capture your imagination. A small boy somberly narrates beautiful stop motion animation, over Oscar winner Dario Marianelli’s dramatic score “If you must blink, do it now”. This film poses so many intriguing questions right from the start, where is his Dad, how and why did our hero lose his eye and who or what are they hiding from? You’re in the same boat as the characters as they don’t know where they’re going or what they’ll do when they get there. You slowly discover their skills and backstory at the same time as our heroes do.This is the fourth feature from Laika, the patient stop motion geniuses who gave us Coraline, Boxtrolls and ParaNorman. Lead Animator and CEO Travis Knight has turned his hand to directing and does an incredible job. He manages to capture the nuances of each of the characters perfectly, some of the funniest moments are from a facial expression or gesture from the cast. Not only does the animation style bring these characters to life but an amazing cast makes them feel really human (or monkey or beetle).
“You find yourself anticipating the next scene, not only to see where the story leads you but to bask in the luscious animation.”
Kubo is expertly voiced by Art Parkinson, Game of Thrones Rickon Stark (you know, the other, other … other Stark brother). Laika seem to be fans of House Stark having used Isaac Hempstead Wright (Brandon Stark) for the lead in their previous feature BoxTrolls. Joining him are a massive cast; Matthew McConaughey takes on his first ever voice acting role and does a superb job playing a beetle with amnesia along for the adventure, and yes he says his line.I’ve watched many movies where they try to spin epic yarns but they often fall short, through poor execution or lack of real characters and story. Kubo is not one of those movies. The core of this story could be considered quite simple, a boy on quest for magical talismans to defeat a bad guy and avenge his family but this is as far from a case of style over the substance as you can get. You find yourself anticipating the next scene, not only to see where the story leads you but to bask in the luscious animation. Laika are known for many things including their animation style, great original story telling and not being afraid to take you to some dark places. Which like most great adventures is essential; you need the dark with the light. NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth and even Toy Story weren’t afraid to make kids afraid, we need that threat to make the journey real and drive the story forward. Unfortunately some very young kids may not appreciate the Spooky Sisters or the enormous Skeleton Warrior but my 6 and 8 year old boys loved every minute – Check out their review blow. Personally I can’t recommend this movie enough; you won’t see another film like it (until Laika makes another one).