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Kubo & The Two Strings - DVD Review

Kubo & The Two Strings

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Having already impressed with Coraline and The Boxtrolls, animation company Laika now return with arguably their most impressive achievement yet with Kubo & The Two Strings.

Channelling both the beauty and intelligence of both Pixar and Studio Ghibli, Travis Knight’s film is an emotionally rich stop-motion action adventure that captures both the heart and mind.

The story focuses on a young boy named Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson), whose peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past.

Forced on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to unlock a secret legacy.

Armed with a magical instrument, Kubo must battle The Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and other gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

At the start of the film, Kubo addresses audiences and tells them to pay attention. It’s advice worth heeding as this is a far more complex tale than most family films.

Not only is it steeped in ancient Japanese history and custom, but there are many twists and turns that you just won’t see coming. There’s a darkness, too, that is sustained throughout as well as an underlying sense of tragedy befitting Shakespeare.

And yet there’s a sense of optimism too that’s evident during the emotional climax, as well as a sense of humour throughout that gives rise to several laughs. The interplay between Kubo, Monkey and Beetle can be particularly witty.

As spectacular as the visuals and set pieces are, too, it’s the characters that also stay with you given how richly drawn they are. Kubo is a particularly affecting young hero (plucky in spite of the loss he endures), while Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey both excel as Monkey and Beetle – the latter, especially, investing his character with a great deal of dim-witted charm.

Kubo won’t be to every taste, especially those who require more straight-forward, self-evident and fast moving slices of family escapism. But for those willing to take its journey, Kubo offers a treasure trove of riches. It is something of a masterpiece: as inspired as it moving and – ultimately – life-affirming.

Certificate: PG Running time: 1hr 40mins UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: January 16, 2017