Kubo and the Two Strings
After a string of wonderful, sometimes surprising stop-motion animation (Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls), Laika Entertainment President and CEO Travis Knight (son of Nike co-founder Phil Knight) makes his directorial debut with another visually stunning animated adventure.
Kubo (v. Art Parkinson) is a one-eyed boy who supports his ill mother (v. Charlize Theron) by playing with origami and his shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese musical instrument. His life suddenly turns upside down when his evil aunts, the Sisters (v. Rooney Mara), and grandfather, the Moon King (v. Ralph Fiennes), attempt to take his other eye. Kubo must team with Monkey (also voiced by Theron) and his samurai father’s loyal apprentice, Beetle (v. Matthew McConaughey), to find his father’s lost sword and armor.
Laika’s stop-motion animation is tremendous, as always, and a pleasant alternative to all the cookie-cutter computer animation proliferating on the big screen. The voice work, especially that of Theron and McConaughey, is also commendable. However, the movie lacks the quirky genre appeal of Laika’s previous works. Then again, the movie does feature George Takei, which is never a bad thing.