Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
Kubo and the Two Strings is a fun, and unique story that is absolutely gorgeous to watch. There I said it. Go watch it. Okay I'll get serious. I had very little expectations going into this movie. I didn't exactly know what to expect. The only reason it really caught my attention was that the animation in the trailers looked absolutely stellar. That and it had George Takei, and my inner Star Trek Nerd said I had to go see it. So I did. And I liked it. I guess I also liked how it was based on the culture of old Japan. I still have a bit of a samurai geek inside me.
Right off the bat, this movie wows you with its absolutely incredible animation. This movie uses its 3D rather well, so I'd recommend the viewing as such. And while some character models can appear rather dull at times, the constant movement in the environment and atmosphere of this film can be absolutely phenomenal. The movement of grass, the papers, and action are just so wonderfully done. It's some of the best stop motion I've seen, and the movie actually gives us a little glimpse at how they did it in the end credits. It's a little treat to stay for in the end credits. I also gotta say that the excellent blending of CGI and Stop Motion is practically flawless. I daresay this is the best animation of 2016, even beating out my beloved Zootopia in that retrospect.
I will also say that the casting is pretty well done. Though unless you're one of the main characters, you don't get a lot of screen time. So if you're a Takei fan, his part is very minor, and you might find slight disappointment there. But I did have a hearty chuckle when I heard them expertly throw in a classic "Oh my!" line. But each voice fits absolutely wonderfully with this movie. Not one voice sounds like it doesn't belong, and coming from a film portraying Japanese society, that is actually really well done.
The story, while fun, can at times be kinda predictable or hard to follow. One of the things I was asking myself by the film's...slightly underwhelming climax was why things happened in this film. That's not to say that the film doesn't do a good job explaining the here, now, or why, but one thing I would have liked out of this film would be a longer run time. At times the story feels rushed, or like it's explaining the full details. One thing I asked myself was who the Moon King was to the people. The villagers really aren't given much of a reason to fear the Moon King of the film, especially since the Moon King only seems interested in the young protagonist. But I must say that the antagonist's goals are actually pretty unique in a fairytale sort of way. Is it slightly clichéd? Sure, but it's not a bad thing here. What shouldn't work, does manage to work, and despite the few questions I still have about the movie itself, it was wonderfully done. And I will say, the ending is open to interpretation, though it can be slightly deus ex machina.
However, for a movie, which has a bit of a focus on a musical instrument, one thing I had to ask myself was would the films music deliver? I tend to focus a lot on the film's soundtrack because despite it being a background thing, the music can absolutely carry a film's mood, and tone. The greatest moments of fun need an appropriate soundtrack. And I'm proud to say that this film's soundtrack is an absolute treat to listen to. The instrument they feature, called a shamisen, is energetic, and never dull. It creates one hell of a backing soundtrack. And during the credits, despite my tenancy not to care for these updated covers, they do throw in a nice rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". It makes for one surprisingly fitting closing song.
With everything said and done, Kubo surprised me in more ways than one. I was kinda nervous going into this one. I'm not familiar with Focus Pictures and honestly wasn't sure what I was getting into with this. But once things start rolling with this film, it's absolutely dazzling. The action is surprisingly fun, the story is charming, the animation and soundtrack are absolutely stellar, Kubo and the Two Strings I am sad to say will be a gem that people will overlook this year. Is it flawless? No. As far as animated movies this year are concerned, I do believe Zootopia left me on a much bigger high, mainly due to the messages in that film, and stronger characters. But this is still very well done, and if you're reading this, do yourself a favor.
Kubo and the Two Strings earns a solid three and a half star rating out of four. The absolutely incredible animation and music more than makes up for the few shortcomings I feel it had in its story. The characters, though underdeveloped are still fun, and by the end of it all, you're left with a smile. It's been a while since I've seen a story with a fairytale feel like this and I have to say I'm very impressed with what I got. This will undoubtedly be nominated for the best animated feature this year. And it well deserves it.
Feel free to request any film you'd with for me to review in the future. Leave a comment deceiving your own thoughts about this film, and as always, thanks for reading.
Final Verdict: 3.5/4