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Recommended age 5-12
101 minutes
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KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS cover image Click to play video trailer
I love this movie. It is original, beautiful to watch and has heart and soul. The quirkiness of this movie only adds to its lovability. It is hard to find an original movie and using origami as the base of this movie is simply genius.

Kubo's grandfather has stolen his eye and now is after the other and he will do whatever he has to, to get the other eye. His two aunts are frighten witches. His mother has lost all her memories and many dangers await Kubo and his only helpers are a monkey and a silly half man, half beetle and an endless supply of paper. I know this all sounds totally crazy, but it all works together quite nicely to make this incredible movie.

I struggled once trying to make an origami swan so I appreciate the origami in this film which has a mind of its own. Kubo plays a two-stringed instrument which transforms simple paper into magnificent, magical shapes and forms.

The voice-overs in this film are stupendous and really bring it to life. My favorite character is Kubo (Art Parkinson) who is just so adorable yet strong, independent and goodhearted. My other favorite is Monkey (Charlize Theron) who is brave, funny, clever and very stubborn. I love her character because of all these traits. Even though she is tough, she has a kind, sweet side that she shows how much she loves her son. There is also the beetle (Matthew McConaughey) who is hysterical, dangerous and a straight shooter or, at least according to him he is. I love his character because its funny and had me belly laughing. His affection for Monkey is adorable. Of course, there are villains of this film. The sisters, both played by Rooney Mara portrays them as crazy, wacko witches and her voice is perfectly scary. The other villain, The Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) is the weird Grandfather who wants Kubo's other eye and he is super creepy.

One of my favorite scenes is when Kubo, Monkey and Beetle are trying to defeat a giant skeleton and find the sword of unbreakablity. It is adventurous and funny. The graphics are incredible, especially the way they created the skeleton. This is the biggest clay animation character ever made. I thought this action scene was intricate and believable.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 18. Adults will like it too. I do want to suggest that if your child is younger than 7, they might get scared with the darkness and the villains, but if they can accept that it is all fake then they will be okay. I rate this film 5 out of 5 magical origami stars.

Reviewed by Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11.

A crowning achievement from Laika studios, this tale follows a one-eyed hero named Kubo (Art Parkinson). For years, his mother has hid him away from her cold-hearted sisters (Rooney Mara) and cruel grandfather (Ralph Finnes). One night, they finally find Kubo, but her mother uses her magic to stall her sisters and give Kubo enough time to escape. With the help of Monkey ( Charlize Theron) and Beatle (Mathew McConaughey), Kubo must find the three pieces of armor in order to defeat his grandfather.

With a summer full of remakes, reboots, sequels and adaptations, it's incredibly refreshing to witness a unique film that's not bound by a former version. This film's plot is full of fascinating lore and investing drama. The film gives clues about where the story is headed and those, for me, help predict the outcome of the story. Even though some come true, it is in no way predictable. This film surely doesn't take the traditional route of storytelling. There are some clich� moments, but the tone of the film makes it quite unique. It can be morbid and respectfully deal with fascinating concepts of life and death, but I adore films that don't talk down to kids and instead treat them as capable viewers.

This film exemplifies some of Laika's best stop motion animation ever put on screen. As I commented in one of my blogs (Advertisement: check out our blogs), I believe stop-motion is fascinating but is sadly declining in today's film world. Thankfully, Laika Studios has kept the art form alive. This company finds creative stories and talented artists to create amazing characters and sets. Even though they don't produce a film very often, this film is an excellent example of where that time and effort goes to. The outstanding use of color and lighting creates gorgeous images and dark dramatic scenes. The characters' designs, from their eyes, to their clothes are extremely detailed. Perhaps the best example of their stop motion skills is shown in the first monster Kubo and his friends encounter. The filmmakers built a giant animatronic in order to create this scene. It's an amazing construction and you can see how the filmmakers shot the scene if you stay through the credits. It's a sight to see.

My favorite scene is after Kubo and his friends fight the second sister. Without giving anything away, this scene takes place after an intense battle. All I can say is that this scene consists of neither dialogue nor music. The visuals speak for everything. Each frame captures the emotion and loss of our protagonist. It's truly a prime example of the power of visual narrative.

The message is that stories end, only to begin new ones. Kubo is a storyteller who never manages to find endings to his tales. When face to face with his Grandfather, he is given the chance to immortality so his story never has to end. However, the idea is passed on that even if your story ends, the people you love will keep your story alive in them and pass it on to generation to generation.

My favorite character is Monkey. Charlize Theron once again demonstrates her incredibly acting ability with this character. I adore the devotion and courage she has when protecting Kubo. Plus she knows how to defend herself and when she has a sword, watch out.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 18. This film is dark at times and can get intense. With that said, because of the sensational technology and intelligent script it's definitely a perfect climax to summer films. It is in theaters now so go check it out.

Reviewed by Keefer C. Blakeslee, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Amidst the beautiful animation is a beautiful story - a story about telling stories and the affects of creating your own story and how to take hold of your fate as you create your story. With comedy, drama and romance, we are taken on a journey of discovery and coming-of-age. Kubo and the Two Strings is a heartfelt, magical, sweeping animated picture that resonates with all ages.

The animation is the first thing to catch your eye and keeps your attention throughout. The detailed, unique animation helps give the film its magical tone. The animation is very defined, which gives the imagery and movement a fluidity that literally, nearly makes the film sweeping. That's how we get an epic feel from it, despite its 100 minute runtime. Furthermore, the animation encourages the theme of creativity, as it is unlike most animated films we've seen, or probably will see.

That theme of creativity, married with the theme of story-telling, is the heart of the story. Kubo tells stories passed down to him from his mother, which she got from living. The movie explains that we create our story as we go and how we will encounter surprises and dangers but the story must go on. What makes our story unique is who's a part of it. That message is told beautifully through brisk, to-the-point plotting and dynamic imagery. What this film says about the process of creating (stories in particular) is how it explains that the situation we're dealt never allows us to create the outcome we want. Instead, life gives us our lemons and we must make our own lemonade.

Even though this film is whimsical and beautifully, there are dark undertones which give it layers. Like Grave of the Fireflies and Up, Kubo and the Two Strings doesn't dumb down its themes and trusts its audience - all of them. The movie uses dialogue to explain itself while giving visual depth that gives it subtext so that children are able to discuss and understand what's at the heart of the film. That is where the true beauty lies.

But there's something beyond that. Even as I write this review, there are things about the movie I can't quite explain. I've touched on the cinematography, the themes and the presentation of the themes, but I can't quite explain the true beauty well enough. What I want to add, is that this movie is a like a painting. It is a moving picture in the true sense of the word. There are moments so distinct and eye-opening that it will take your breath away. Then, the underlying tonal darkness of the picture gives it a maturity that appeals to older audiences. To put it simply, Kubo and the Two Strings is made up of dreamlike imagery underscored by nightmarish undertones. I also want to note the rather haunting score, beautifully penned by Dario Marianelli. It's literally the perfect concoction for a film, filled with fantasy, horror, sadness, humor, creativity, epic-ness, beauty, patience and pace.

With that said, I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. It can be seen at a local theater near you.

Reviewed by Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Kubo lives a quiet, normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior.
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