Kubo and the Two Strings, 2016.
Directed by Travis Knight
Featuring the voice talents of Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei, Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ralph Fiennes and Rooney Mara.
Kubo and the Two Strings arrives in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD set that features the movie in high-def and standard-def, along with a smattering of bonus features that touch on the making of this extraordinary animated film but unfortunately don’t dig too deep.
There may be nothing new under the sun, but there are still plenty of new ways to approach old ideas. That’s what the team at Laika did when they created Kubo and the Two Strings, an inventive stop-motion animated film that combines a unique visual style with a story that hits many familiar beats but does so with engaging characters.
Like many who have heeded the call to adventure in stories throughout history, Kubo is an unassuming boy who lives a simple life. He and his mother share a cave near a small town, where he spends his free time entertaining the locals with his magical origami skills. He creates intricately folded people and creatures who come to life at his command and help him tell stories.
His father died a long time ago, and when Kubo stays out late one evening against his mother’s wishes, his sisters, who he has been warned about, chase him. His mother rescues him and decides it’s time for him to find the magical armor belonging to his deceased father. Two of Kubo’s origami creations, Monkey and Beetle, join him on his quest.
Pixar has long been unafraid to tread darker territory sometimes in their movies, and Laika has done the same during its 10-year history. Kubo and the Two Strings continues that trend, giving us a story that’s not afraid to scare kids a little while offering adults some thoughts about loyalty and family to consider. The animation is beautiful and demonstrates that the medium does not have to be the exclusive domain of computers. Sometimes a mix of physical and digital elements can express just the right look and feel, and Laika achieves that here.
This release features the movie and bonus features on a Blu-ray, along with a DVD containing the movie and a code for a digital copy of the film. While the video supplements don’t dig too deep, director and producer Travis Knight recorded an audio commentary that’s a worthwhile listen. He talks about historical and fictional influences on the story, themes, technical details, and much more.
Knight also appears in the other bonus features, which start with the six-part Kubo’s Journey (roughly 30 minutes). He introduces the series of featurettes and provides an epilogue. In between, he and the cast and crew talk about the Japanese cultural influences, how the three main monsters were created (the 16-foot-tall skeleton is amazing), the challenges of creating water in a stop-motion film, and the importance of the film’s musical score.
The Myth of Kubo (2.5 minutes) examines the adventure themes in the film and Corners of the Earth (3 minutes) looks at the story’s locations. Both of them retread some of the same ground in Kubo’s Journey, but there’s some new information here too.
While some meatier bonus materials would have been nice, this is still a worthwhile purchase for fans. And if you haven’t seen Kubo and the Two Strings yet, it’s worth a blind buy if the description sounds intriguing.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★