Animation is in a golden age right now; alongside superhero films they are owning the box office over the last couple of years. However one thing that gets a little bit of short shrift is stop motion animation. Thankfully Laika are have slowly been making some waves in the animation world with films like Coraline and the Box Trolls.
Now they are here with their biggest film to date, Kubo and the Two Strings. And this is a breathtaking film. We follow Kubo as he tries to find mythical armour in order to defeat his grandfather the Moon King. The story moves along quick enough to engage children, but also allows time for great character moments between Kubo, and the Monkey and Beetle who join him on his journey. It is also a story about family, with Kubo facing off against his grandfather and aunts, but also finding family in his strange companions along the way, and sharing memories with them.
The stop animation work on Kubo is some of the most incredible animation work ever. The film is not just a beautiful story, but also visually. The way that Laika combine their use of actual models with some computer animation is flawless. There is a small clip at the end of the credits of one of the models that they used in the film, the work that goes into them is absolutely incredible. This is one of the best looking animated films in a long time, and such credit has to go to the animators at Laika for their work.
The voice cast on the film is also stellar. Art Parkinson, Rickon from Game of Thrones, voices Kubo, and is joined by some acting heavyweights like Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and Rooney Mara. All of them do a job bringing their characters to life, especially Theron.
Honestly this was a film that hit essentially every box I’d want in an animated film. It has a fun and emotional story, is beautifully animated, has a great voice cast, has a good score, and showcases some powerful themes. Without a doubt Kubo is one of the best films of the year, and will be up there with my personal favourites come the end of the year.