Kubo and the Two Strings

Just look at this trailer.

At first glance, I fell in love: the stop-motion mixed with a gorgeous cover of one of my favorite songs made my heart and imagination soar. Not to mention the hype in more recent ads, commending the film’s beauty and depth – I was stoked, to say the least. Alas, I left my seat feeling …well, underwhelmed.

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Even with these spooky badasses.

It’s strange to have a Japanese story with a predominately white cast – well, maybe not strange, after all, this has been happening for decades, why stop now? (Despite his appearance in the trailer, George Takei had maybe five lines.)

Though I do have to say that the film is objectively lovely – an absolute spectacle, but suffers under the weight of its own mythos; I found myself begging for more mysticism and lore, but I was only met with the same run-of-the-mill lessons of the importance of story-telling and familial commemoration. Not that these things aren’t important, but maybe I was expecting more depth or at least some deviation of some sort – or hey, maybe some sort of recognition of the shamisen’s significance and history?

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More on Kubo’s mom would have been fantastic.

Speaking of the shamisen, the score and tonality was gorgeous. I’m not sure if it was an issue of time or studio restrictions, but I would have appreciated this film a lot more if it revolved around more myth and magic – I want to know how Kubo learned about his gifts and if and how he was taught these abilities.

And as I mentioned, this is a spectacle – especially in 3D. Director Travis Knight and Laika are no strangers to the third dimension, and they work to capture the potential of this extra space. After all, this is a physical, hand-crafted medium, and I think that deserves some extra respect.

I felt pretty divided at the end of this one. It was lovely, but needed a lot more oomf. There’s a lot of heart to be had, but stops short of definition.

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About reelgirl

I want to change the way people see movies.

Posted on August 21, 2016, in Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. One to consider…. and yes, that song.

  2. Saw it yesterday and enjoyed it immensely. There were some gaps as you say, regarding Kubo’s discovering of his magical powers, but the visuals were captivating and kept the story rolling.
    The audience at my session was probably 30-50 people in all, and maybe 10 of them were children 3-7. It was a bit too dark for that age group. What do you think?

    • I think 3 is too young to bring a child to any movie. But I’m also not the biggest fan of little’uns. I think some kids of 6 or 7 could handle the darker imagery, especially if they dig spooky stuff. Parental discretion advised.

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