Kubo and the Two Strings

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What a disappointing night at the movies. Since I had missed the screening of Kubo, I took the girlfriend to see it over the weekend. We thought we’d hit our favorite Italian restaurant, before going to our favorite theatre — the Reading Town Square in Clairemont. Well, our restaurant was closed for renovations. We instead went with a dinner of nachos and popcorn at the theatre. And that was the best thing about this evening.

Kubo is from Laika Studios. They gave us the horrible (but critically praised Coraline). I did love their film ParaNorman, and this had co-writer Marc Haimes, so I was hopefully.

Well, the animation was stunning. Beautiful stop motion imagery, and some CGI that helped things out. That’s about all it had going for it.

Kubo (the voice of Art Parkinson) is a one-eyed boy taking care of his sick mother. In a scene I adored, he goes to a seaside marketplace and tells stories, while plucking an old guitar, as his origami creations beautifully come to life. His mother has told him not to stay out past dark. When he does one night, the ghosts of his aunts (voiced by Rooney Mara) come after his good eye (I wonder if those are the types of nightmares Sammy Davis Jr. used to have when performing).

His evil uncle is the Moon King (isn’t that the name of one of Frank Zappa’s kids?). In his origami stories, the warrior would often defeat him.

I dozed off and missed how the next segment transpired (I challenge anybody to stay awake for this boring film). Kubo ends up on a journey with his wooden monkey (Charlize Theron) that was brought to life, and a rather dense beetle (Matthew McConaughey, who is perfectly cast and could’ve just done dialogue from those dopey Lincoln commercials). On their journey, they need to acquire three things: a sword, a suit of armor, and…something else. I don’t remember, and really don’t care. What I was more concerned with was a theatre filled with children. This isn’t a kids movie. It’s rated PG, and it’s a Japanese folklore with lots of supernatural elements. The themes are rather sophisticated for them to absorb. It has very little action, and the little ones will get bored. In fact, the older kids and adults, will also be bored. The adults will also wonder why a lot of the premise is such a mess. This is a movie that’s strictly for fans of animation. How can you not love some of the battle scenes, or looking at the various details on a villager’s face, or the beauty of lanterns floating down a river.

The movie was an hour and 41 minutes long, but felt three hours long. A few of the scenes were repetitive, and it needed a better editing job.

For a movie being praised this much, and doing surprisingly well at the box office (probably based on those reviews)…it’s way too slow.

I’ll give it an extra half a star for using the most underrated singer/songwriter in music — Regina Spektor — doing a fantastic version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps at the end.

1 ½ stars out of 5.

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