Quix Picks: Kubo and the Two Strings

This stop-motion masterpiece is by the Laika studio, the folks who gave us Coraline and ParaNorman (I recommend both) and Boxtrolls (I haven’t seen it yet). Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a young storyteller with magical powers on a quest to find his father and help his mother in ancient Japan. With great voice acting by Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, it’s part samurai adventure, part fantasy, part action-adventure and wholly wonderful.

The craftsmanship is extraordinary, just like the other movies that Laika has done. And the attention to historical period detail is stunning. Talk about persistence! To do a stop-motion movie must just be grindingly long and painstaking. So it’s a treat to inform you that the story has enough heft and Joseph Campbell-approved parts to match the visual efforts.

I’m a fan of warm colors and this picture is visually lush, with an impossibly gorgeous color palette and lighting. I want to watch it again right now just to enjoy the beauty that’s been given us.

Be forewarned, the emotional depth of the story may be too much for very young viewers. This ain’t no Disney movie! Just like I can still shudder thinking of a moment in the movie Coraline where the mother turns around to talk to the daughter and her eyes have been replaced by buttons, there are some raw moments in this with a strong helping of darkness and intensity.

But the intensity is balanced well with an enormous amount of heart. And even the last few scenes that some cynics may think of as cheesy ring true to me in the tradition of the African villages that ‘punish’ lawbreakers by telling them how good they are as people and the Buddhist tradition of death opening us up to becoming one with the world.

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