Kubo and the Two Strings (PG) – a preview

Kubo and the Two Strings (PG)

Industrial giant, Pixar and plucky Brits, Aardman have of late dominated the animation market, so it’s good to see Laika elbowing their way in between. They combine computer generation and stop motion techniques to carve out a niche of their own. Offering the smooth delivery of CGI, but also the depth and texture of stop motion, Kubo and the Two Stings is a continual feast for the eyes.

Suffused with complex, dark ideas, this is a superbly mounted movie with a sumptuous score from Dario Marianelli. There is a haunting and lyrical quality to the writing – a refreshing change to the wisecracking assault of many family films. Full of imagination and wonder, there is also much here that is genuinely creepy, even for an adult audience. The Kabuki masked sisters are clearly indebted to Hideo Nakata’s Ring, while the terrifying bone monster is surely a tribute to Ray Harryhausen. Most of all however, Kubo’s increasingly hallucinogenic journey is reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Charlize Theron, as Monkey, provides the backbone of the film, while Ralph Fiennes’s Moon King is deliciously menacing. And, if the slapstick of Matthew McConaughey’s warrior beetle doesn’t always sit easily with its more profound ideas of rebirth and destiny, this strange and unique film remains a brave, provocative mix of cultures and influences.

By David Vass