What should a good children's film be about? Fruit cake and camping, as in Swallows and Amazons? Friendship, as in Pete's Dragon? Adventure as in The Jungle Book? How about death? How about suffering? How about pain?
From these unlikely, dark themes has emerged a beautiful, soulful, stop motion film from studio Laika.
In this original story, framed as a Japanese myth, young Kubo is a charismatic, magical young storyteller. Each day Kubo leaves the cave where he lives with his ailing mother and descends into the town to tell his stories: with the help of his guitar, he brings to life origami figures that act out the brave and daring feats from the tales he tells.
Little does he know that his mother's stories are true: that the evil Moon King is his grandfather and the King's weird, spectral daughters are his aunts, and that they are coming to claim Kubo's one remaining eye. Once his ghostly family members have found him, he must flee his home and hunt down three items that will help him defeat his horrible relatives: The Armour Impenetrable, The Sword Unbreakable and The Helmet Invulnerable.
Kubo, his companion monkey (Charlize Theron) and the giant samurai beetle (Matthew McConaughey) are warm and funny, thank heavens, and offer plenty of light relief and banterous flirting. But the plot isn't great. The mission to hunt the armour feels a bit like a video game (this baddy, and then that baddy, and then this baddy must be defeated on their way to collecting something gold and shiny) and leaves something to be desired, especially as so much of the heroes' success is down to chance.
Nonetheless, this is an excellent children's film. There are some genuinely scary moments, especially from the otherworldly sisters with their cracked china faces. But mostly, Kubo and the Two Strings is a sad movie about death, longing, loneliness and the power of forgiveness. Bring tissues and prepare for difficult conversations with your family afterwards.
Rated U. We recommend for ages 7+
|What||Kubo and the Two Strings review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
09 Sep 16 – 31 Oct 16, Cinema times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|