Unlike a lot of people, one of my favorite parts of seeing a movie in a theater is watching all of the previews. When I saw the preview for “Kubo and the Two Strings,” I decided that it was something I had to see.
When I do a movie review for work, I go and see the movie on a night where the movie theater is normally empty, so I wasn’t surprised that my boyfriend and I were the only ones in the theater on Wednesday. This proved to be an awesome advantage because my boyfriend and I love to talk about the movie as we watch it, and there was no one around to bother with our occasional exchanges.
The movie itself follows Kubo, a young boy with only one eye living in ancient Japan with his mother. His mother told him that when he was a baby, his eye was stolen and his samurai father was killed by her father and sisters. While his mother was escaping with him in a boat, a giant wave crashed into her boat and sent her spiraling down to the bottom of the sea, where she hit her head on a large rock.
Kubo’s mother seems to live with the injury from her accident, as she often forgets stories as she is telling them to her son. Kubo takes some of the stories he hears from his mother and performs them for people in his town. He uses magic that only seems to come about by playing his shamisen (a Japanese lute) to bring origami figures to life to tell his stories.
His mother instructs him to never stay out after dark, to always take a monkey trinket with him wherever he goes and to always wear his father’s cloak. But one day, during a traditional Japanese festival, Kubo stays out after dark to pray for the spirit of his father, who his mother said had died protecting them.
He quickly learns why his mother warned him to be home before dark when his two mysterious aunts try to steal away his other eye so that he will become blind to the world and join his grandfather, the Moon King. Kubo realizes the stories his mother told were real. His mother, aunts and his grandfather were all supernatural beings who lived in the heavens, but his mother stayed on Earth to be with his father.
Kubo runs back home and his mother uses the last of her magic to give Kubo wings to fly away, to bring the monkey trinket to life and to subdue her sisters to give Kubo a chance to fly far away.
Kubo learns he must find a few artifacts to defeat his evil grandfather. With “monkey” protecting him, and a few friends helping out along the way, Kubo sets out on the quest of a lifetime.
I loved this movie, and I believe any parent or adult would like it too. It’s a great movie to see with children or even with friends — if you don’t think animated movies are just for children. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 96 percent, and the Internet Movie Database gave it an 8.4 out of 10. Both scores are pretty high because those websites tend to low ball most movie reviews.
The most unusal thing about the movie is actually its name. The lute that Kubo plays actually has three or four strings, so the title confused me a bit. But if I told you how the movie got its name, I’d be giving away some plot points.
During some parts of the movie, when the frame was close on a characters face, the mouth of the character speaking would look a bit glitchy. However, I don’t know if it was the screening equipment at the movie theater or if it was truly built into the production of the movie. I know that I’ll find out when it comes out on DVD, because I will definitely be watching it again.
Gabrielle Isaac can be reached at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.