Kubo and the Two Strings

Out of all of the reviews I write, I have trouble writing about films that I love. I’m not sure why this is… probably because I’m a miserable jerkface that thrives on negativity, or when something is done right, I simply accept that is how it should be and am left wondering why other movies have such a hard time doing it. The thing is, I know it’s hard… It’s hard to tell a story, it’s hard to make a film, so when it is done as wonderfully as Kubo and the Two Strings, why do I have such a hard time heaping praise?

Oh, I can heap praise, but it’s usually short and sweet. Not like the novels I can write about a bad movies or even movies that are mediocre. Who knows… maybe a movie review is like a doctor’s visit: The shorter the visit, the better the news!

I loved this movie. I truly did. Not only was it a film that was beautifully shot, the emotions of the characters radiating from their faces with every frame, every setting alive and wonderful, but the story was just marvelous. Just lovely. It was the type of story where the direction it was going was never very clear and every event around every corner was a surprise. Some surprises made you smile, while others broke your heart. Kubo and the Two Strings respected its audience enough not to hold back its punches and allowed them to bring extra weight to the story. Death, remembrance, family… Presented in good ways and bad.

It’s art, folks. Art that moves.

Kubo and the Two Strings just hits every mark perfectly. The characters’ animation is just spectacular and every one of the main characters is so layered and likable. They have hopes, dreams, and motivations that drive them and even the villains leap off the screen. The sisters, for example, are scary as hell and the Moon King has one of the most unexpected motivations I’ve seen in a long time. I’m used to the bad guy just wanting to kill the hero, so seeing what he wants was refreshing and unexpected.

The movie is stuffed with energy and vibrant imagination. Every frame is a masterpiece, every moment is a sonnet.

There’s just one thing that bothers me… and it’s nothing that the movie does because, as I said, the movie is great. My problem is this:

Why is Hollywood so Asian-phobic?

You have this amazing story set in Japan and every single one of the primary characters – who are Asian – are voiced by white people. Meanwhile, George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, two amazing well-known Asian actors, are relegated to small background parts.

I don’t care what the studio’s excuse is, it’s bull.

Pixar may get all the press, but Laika is my favorite animation studio – even if they are apparently Asian-phobic. Every movie they have done is so multilayered that you can watch it over and over again and discover something new. Coraline, Paranorman, The Box Trolls… all of them have been amazing and Kubo and the Two Strings is another stunning feather in the studio’s hat.

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