Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey, Meyrick Murphy, Minae Noji, Alpha Takahashi, Laura Miro, Ken Takemoto (voices)
Written by: Marc Haimes, Chris Butler, based on a story by Shannon Tindle, Marc Haimes
Directed by: Travis Knight
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril
Running Time: 101
Date: 08/19/2016

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Strings' Attached

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The fourth stop-motion animated feature film from Laika Studios is the deeply imaginative, heartfelt Kubo and the Two Strings. Remarkably, it's an original story, designed to be something like Japanese folklore, but created by Westerners. Nonetheless, it's respectful and uncynical, choosing warmth and beauty over vulgarity or crudeness. Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson, a teen "Game of Thrones" star) is a young boy whose father is gone and who takes care of his mother; she seems emotionally devastated, sometimes lucid, but most times gazing off into the distance. Kubo earns money in the village by playing his magical stringed instrument, which can make origami figures move and tell stories. He's also missing an eye, stolen by his evil relatives. One day, those relatives attack, and Kubo must retreat, journeying across the land to find three magical pieces of armor. He's aided by a talking monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron) and a warrior beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey). There are amazing monsters, a flock of paper birds, a ship built from dry leaves, and other dazzling sights; the movie truly has the ability to create awe and wonder, a rare thing these days. Directed by Laika CEO Travis Knight -- making his debut -- Kubo and the Two Strings champions the pure pleasure and power of storytelling; it's simple, but spectacular. Theron and McConaughey in particular find a kind of tonal perfection in their voice work, and I'd venture to say that these are among their finest performances.

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