|LittleBit was given this poster by the cinema staff|
Kubo and the Two Strings is a stop motion animated film, and according to IMDB, is the longest stop motion animation film to date. It's made from over 145,000 still photographs.
The story, which is set in Japan (not modern day), centres on a young boy, Kubo, who has only one eye and lives in a cave caring for his poorly Mother. The cave overlooks the ocean on the outskirts of a village, into which Kubo travels each day with his magical shamisen (a three stringed Japanese instrument, similar to a guitar), telling stories using origami figures he brings to life by playing music on the shamisen.
The start of the film, including the stories, tell us that Kubo's father was killed by the Moon King, (Kubo's Maternal Grandfather, who took his missing eye, and wants the other one) and that the rules his mother gives him to live by, are simple; Always wear his father's robe, always carry his wooden monkey figurine, and never stay outside after dark.
One night, he joins the villagers in a festival to honour the spirits of the dead, which leaves him out of doors, at night, when his Aunts (spectral beings from the heavens) try to catch him. His mother uses the last of her magic to save him, creating wings from his father's robes to carry him to safety, and bringing "Mr Monkey" to life. Her final instruction to him is to find the magical armour his father had been seeking, in order to defeat his Grandfather, and save his eye.
Along the way, Kubo and Monkey (who is not a Mr) meet Beetle, a former Samurai Warrior, who wears Kubo's Father's crest and was cursed to lose his memories of his former life and live as a beetle/human hybrid, fight Kubo's Aunts again, come across the largest ever stop-motion puppet to be built, before finally facing the Moon King.
...and if you want to know how it turns out... you'll have to go and see it for yourself!
Seriously, my highlight's include the character voiced by Mr Sulu (George Takai) actually saying "Oh Myy", the Aunts (voiced by Rooney Mara) saying "Kubo, we've been looking for you for so long" in haunting unison, and in the end credits, to a rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", footage of the crew building the 16 foot tall puppet skeleton.
Even LittleBit was teary eyed by the end of the film, which is a beautiful story, with a lovely ending.
Although it's rated PG, it may not be suitable for very young children, and one family had to leave part way through the film because their Little One was scared, some of the film is quite dark, and even in stop motion, some ghouls are scary. LittleBit is eight and was fine though.
I scored it 5/5, it's one we'll definitely watch again
Finally, if the shamisen is a three stringed instrument, why is the film called Kubo and the Two Strings? Right at the end, Kubo has to re-string his Shamisen, he uses one hair from his head, and it's the other two strings which are eponymous, and more important, but you'll have to watch the film to work out where they come from!
I really want to dress up as one of the Aunts for Halloween, but I am neither thin enough, nor have anyone to dress up like that with me! What a downer!