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Kubo and the Two Strings is a wondrous movie about family

By Alvin Soon - on 13 Sep 2016, 11:11am

The best part of my job isn’t when I lambast shoddy products, but when I can lend my voice in support of something new and good. The recently opened movie Kubo and the Two Strings is one of those rare gems.

The 3D stop-motion animated movie comes from the same studio behind Coraline, but Kubo’s lyrical and technical achievements are a level up in comparison. Because the sets and characters are handcrafted and painstakingly hand animated frame by frame, the movie has a life that’s missing from precision computer graphics.

I hesitated to post its trailer here, because Kubo and the Two Strings is one of those rare movies today where the movie is actually better than the trailer. Whereas the trailer plays it as a straight action movie, Kubo is really a movie about family and the ties that strengthen us.

Kubo is a child with unusual gifts; he can bring origami to life with his shamisen. He takes care of his ailing mother, who makes him promise to never stay out after dark. When he inadvertently fails to make it home before sunrise, he attracts the attention of his demon aunts, which forces him to embark on a quest to save himself, discovering the truth about his family along the way. I was utterly gutted by the movie’s end and crying like a baby, but then again I’m a softie at the movies, so take that for what you will.

For a movie that’s earned critical acclaim (it has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 154 reviews), Kubo isn’t doing too well at the box office. It’s grossed US$39.7 million so far, against its budget of US$60 million. It needs to make more to break even and give Laika some breathing room to make more great movies — which is why I’m penning this review, to encourage more people to experience this film.

I have to give you one warning though — some scenes can get a little scary for younger children. There were a couple of moments that made the kids in front of us uncomfortable. I’d guess they were around five or thereabouts, so I wouldn’t bring kids that are too young to see it.

I’ve always loved movies, because the best of them make you feel. Kubo and the Two Strings strings together everything wonderful about the movies: Striking visuals, memorable characters, and it makes you feel.

Kubo and the Two Strings is showing in theaters now.

Alvin Soon

Alvin Soon / Former Deputy Editor

I like coffee and cameras, but not together.