Travis Knight’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016) is a film in which he had directed for the first time, and has had a roaring success with many film critics and audiences worldwide. Knight is also known for animating the well-received “Coraline” (2009), making stop-motion animation his signature style.
As Christy Lemire describes: “But Knight and his massive team of animators have packaged these weighty, complex themes within visuals that are just jaw-dropping in both their beauty and craftsmanship. A decade in the making, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is both painstakingly detailed and epic in scope. Inspired by a multitude of Japanese art forms, it’s textured yet crisp, frighteningly dark yet radiant with bold color. It’s a classic hero’s journey full of action and adventure, but it’s also an intimate fable about love and loss, magic and memory.” (Lemire, 2016). The film is indeed impressive with it’s handling of colours matching happy and sombre moods; the scenes rich in with imagination and a breath of fresh air in the film industry. There is incredible attention to detail in this film, keeping in mind it is created with stop-motion.
The story is based in Japan, however has it’s American traits sprinkled within the film, by the use of American accents, Hollywood style production and engaging fighting / action scenes.
The story tells of a young boy Kubo, and how he looks after his ill mother, and earns money by performing in the streets; but his performances are very unique, as he crafts origami paper, they come to life when he plays his instrument. Kubo foreshadows the films events when telling the story of samurai warrior, Hanzo, and his quest to defeat the Moon King, by using the unbreakable sword, hemlet and breastplate. However, Kubo must return to his home before sundown, or risk losing his other eye to the creepy witchlike aunties and the Moon king himself, which is Kubo’s grandfather. Unfortunately, one night Kubo doesn’t return on time and is attacked by his aunties, but his mother comes to the rescue, however is killed in the process. Kubo awakes by a monkey, and later is accompanied by a beetle warrior and the origami verison of Hanzo. They go on a quest to find the real life sword, helmet and breast plate of Hanzo in order to defeat the Moon King and sisters, and it is later revealed that Kubo’s mother and father are actually the monkey and beetle.
Kubo eventually meets an elderly man called Raiden, who he was visited by in a dream, and he turns out to be the Moon King. Raiden turns into a huge creature ready to kill Kubo, but Kubo takes out his trusty instrument, restrings it with his dad’s bowstring, his own hair and his mother’s hair. He then summons the spirits of the villager’s loved ones, and the Moon King gets stripped of his powers and memories. Kubo then visits his parents grave in a bittersweet scene.
Jabob Stolworthy explains: “The trio's scenes go from rip-roaring to breathless with a fluidity brought to life by the deployment of real-life puppets; with utmost care applied to every shot, the adults will be marvelling as much as the youngsters. It’s to Laika’s credit that director Travis Knight manages to fit Kubo's expansive mythology into the film’s 102-minute running time with the skill of a seasoned gift-wrapper.” (Stolworthy, 2016).
“Kubo and the Two Strings” stop-motion stands out for its complexity, dark themes and the extraordinary beauty of its animation.
Ide, W. (2016) theguardian.com (Accessed on 18/05/2017) https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/11/kubo-and-two-strings-review
Lemire, C. (2016) rogerebert.com (Accessed on 18/05/2017) http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/kubo-and-the-two-strings-2016
Pile, J. (2016) empireonline.com (Accessed on 18/05/2017) http://www.empireonline.com/movies/kubo-two-strings/review/
Stolworthy, J (2016) independant.co.uk (Accessed on 18/05/2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/kubo-and-the-two-strings-review-laika-studios-pixar-zootropolis-charlize-theron-ralph-fiennes-the-a7234556.html
Fig 1: (Accessed on 18/05/2017)http://cdn2-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/kubo-and-the-two-strings/29406173_max.jpg
Fig 2: (Accessed on 18/05/2017)http://cdn2.thr.com/sites/default/files/2016/12/23000090stilllaika00011471473181-embed.jpg
Fig 3: (Accessed on 18/05/2017)https://static1.squarespace.com/static/51b3dc8ee4b051b96ceb10de/t/5795a1782e69cf39f3b84287/1469423997997/
Fig 4: (Accessed on 18/05/2017)https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ad/b1/0e/adb10e616baf9031d541983ed3b0169b.jpg