One of the issues I've had with this [Celluloid Hero] series is finding time to watch movies. I know it sounds crazy, but with the work schedule of my wife and I, adding in Baby Varacchi, there's just not as much time for me to sit and watch movies about Korean zombies or French terrorists or whatever. When my daughter was younger I got away with some movies because she wasn't old enough to be aware of what was going on (don't tell my wife that Baby Varacchi has already seen stuff like 'Kill Bill' and 'Predator'), but now that she's a bit older, we sat together on the couch to watch "Kubo and the Two Strings".

Kubo is a 12-year-old boy, living with his mother in a cave outside a village. The mythology of this universe is established quickly and thoroughly, with Kubo's mother trying to protect  him from her father, the Moon King, and her evil sisters; Kubo's father has already died protecting the family. When Kubo accidentally stays out after dark, the evil forces chase him as he tries to find mystical armor he can use to defeat them. It's a fantastic style of story-telling, bringing in lots of elements of traditional Japanese lore, full of samurai and dragons and enchanted origami and a magical guitar and battles of honor.

What really struck me was just how beautiful this movie is. The stop-motion animation is incredible, the visual effects are gorgeous, and a majority of the character designs are awesome. Kubo and Monkey and Beetle look great; the scenic backgrounds are amazing; the evil sisters were genuinely creepy (enough that I kept checking to make sure Baby V was okay).

The voicework was a strong point too. The young Art Parkinson brought real emotion to Kubo; Matt McConaughey was charming at Beetle; Charlize Theron's Monkey gave me some real Tilda Swinton vibes, in a good way; Rooney Mara had the advantage of some effects being added to her role of the evil sisters, but her cold delivery stood on its own.

The only knock I really have against this movie is a portion of the ending. Obviously I won't spoil it, but a part of the finale just seemed like it didn't fit with the rest of the story. It wasn't enough to totally ruin it, but it just felt a bit off. I'm still a mess when it comes to movies about families and loss and all, and it felt great to sit with my daughter and experience it together. I know she's purely into the visuals right now, but I'll keep "Kubo" on the list of movies we can revisit when she's older.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Kubo and the Two Strings" a 9 out of 10.




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