Every so often, usually when busied with some sort of mundane task, the wife and I will wander the vast labyrinths of video streaming services in search of some gem we’ve previously neglected. I’d seen Kubo and the Two Strings before, but Nicole hasn’t, and if there’s one thing that makes tedium easier to endure without sacrificing quality, it’s a movie you’ve seen and enjoyed.
Kubo revels in its personality. The animation style is stop-motion, but with a level of detail and a distinct Japanese style that separate it from more familiar fare. This, by itself, would be cause for curiosity, if not much else. Instead, the visual feast comes spiced with a story that makes for pleasant popcorn fare. We’re not talking Kafka levels of intrigue, here, but Kubo hits its emotional notes and throws its characters into a number of fun sequences. Giant skeletons, paper bird swarms, and sea monsters all make appearances.
What, I think, I like most about this movie is its ability to hold fast to its plot without asking questions, without adding in complications, and, most of all, without spoiling the entertainment on offer by taking a harder look at the brutality of the story. People die in this one, kids. Good guys, bad guys. Often in medieval ways.
Still, the carnage is earned. Unlike some children’s tales where the “evil” only plays at the name, in Kubo the designation is warranted. The people chasing after the titular kid won’t hesitate to slice him and all his friends up, or, if it’s easier, to corrupt him against everything his friends stand for. Point being – it’s good vs. evil and the evil earns its keep.
So yes, if you’re believing this movie looks too kid-friendly for you, don’t make the mistake. It’s a magical adventure and a visual treat. You won’t have to think too hard to enjoy it either, because Kubo doesn’t cloud its intentions in layers of obfuscating plot.
Which, I suppose, is a lesson – once you know what you want to do with your story, do that. Don’t get distracted. Don’t get fancy. Find your story and tell it.