Boasting some big names who provide big vocal talent (notably, Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey are Kubo’s “animal” sidekicks), Kubo and The Two Strings is set in an imagined landscape of mythic Japan.
Young hero Kubo (Game of Thrones‘ Art Parkinson) wears an eye patch; his mum seems to have PTSD, and they live in a cave because Kubo’s mystical grandfather wants to steal his other eye. And things get darker and freakier from there, as Kubo’s magical abilities of origami storytelling cannot adequately prepare him for an epic quest to locate special armour – and do battle with spirits, monsters and the supernatural realm.
RATED: Kubo and The Two Strings is PG for Mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare young children.
AUDIENCE: Aimed at the family market, Kubo is more for fans of stop-motion tales or Japanese animation, rather than the Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks variety. So, it’s a kids movie for adults, but it’s also definitely crafted well for children above the age of 8 or 10.
WHAT’S GOOD: Visually, Kubo blends several styles of animation (stop-motion, CGI, anime) into a distinct spectacle. It’s quote something to behold and be immersed in (particularly in 3D). For those who complain that new movies don’t have enough new ideas, Kubo is an antidote to the remakes, rehashes and sequels filling our screens.
A mash-up of Western and Eastern storytelling, this PG-rated adventure treats seriously some enormous subject matter. Director Travis Knight and his handful of screenwriters do a splendid job of pitching the on-screen conversations, explanations and situations at an appropriate level.
WHAT’S NOT: If you are a parent or caregiver, prepare for some massive debriefs with the kids about Kubo and the Two Strings. Death, grief, disability, spirits, ancestor worship, the supernatural realm and the afterlife are major players throughout this ancient adventure. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with questions and conversations being prompted about such weighty matters, the complexity of storytelling and content can become overwhelming, distracting or confusing. Also, the on-screen presence of evil spirits and monsters will scare young viewers.
SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: Far from a universe of God, Jesus, us, the earth and the heavenly realm as explained by the Bible, Kubo is more a fluid existence where good and bad battle to come out on top. The spiritual warfare on show seems to have no firm parameters, VIPs or end-game, unlike the spiritual warfare outlined in the New Testament (see Ephesians 6, for example). Kubo unfurls like a made-up story being told, yet one full of deep issues we all need to confront in reality. Plus, the persistent plot element of ancestor worship – and contacting deceased relatives – opens up a big can of worms about how the living relates to the dead.
RELEASE DATE: Now Showing