Kubo and the Two Strings movie full length review - I wish they had spent a little bit more time on the plot
I came to watch the movie without any expectations.
To be honest, I had had a hype about it for a while, but it died down as time passed, and I just came across it by accident, felt intrigued once again (without remembering my previous excitement after having seen the trailer), and decided to give it a try.
I was appalled by the visual quality of "Kubo and the Two strings", given that the movie's style is mostly stop-motion. The color palette was wide in range - monochrome when need-be and beautifully vibrant when the scene called for it. There was an undeniable fluidity to the characters' movement, and the editing as well as the special effects were definitely satisfying to the eye, to say the least. I also enjoyed the soundtrack and the voice acting of the movie, which had clearly been given a lot of effort into. I especially loved the three strings's performances. The songs really gave a traditional Eastern feel to the movie that might have been somewhat incomplete without it. The Japanese cultural blend is something quite common in American animated works for the past few years, and "Kubo and the Two Strings" did an outstanding job of portraying the Japanese culture.
There were a few minus sides to this work, however. Even though I started watching without expectations, I was a little disappointed that the plot was quite predictable. I could easily name ten instances where my guesses of the characters' next actions were correct. I will not go into details of those times, as it will only make this review too long and tedious. To sum every of those times up, I would use the phrase, "Of course that happens." (along with a slight eye roll, a sigh, an emphasize on "of", and a sip from my hot chocolate mug like an asshole)
After researching, I found that it took two years to create "Kubo and the Two Strings". As said above, I was very impressed without the amount of effort put into the visuals, but I just had a small wish, a really small one, that they would put that much effort into the plot. Throughout the course of the movie, I felt like a lot of aspects was underdeveloped. The Moon King, although he was the reason that the whole movie happened, didn't come off as destructive as what I had assumed he should be after the tales of him during the movie. The relationship of Monkey and Beetle (Kubo's mother and father) was another example of underdevelopment. Sure, we eventually know that they had been married all along, but the switch between Monkey's attitude towards Beetle (suspicion to trust to something similar to friendship or love) was too abrupt, especially since she valued Kubo so much that she wanted to stab Beetle in their first encounter. It just made it feel like "Okay, now they're like this. Sure. Oh, they're friends now? Since when did this happen?" And maybe this is the effect of another downplayed element in the storytelling of the movie - Kubo's adventure. The journey to find that armor was a relatively treacherous one, but it didn't quite feel like that throughout the movie since the pacing of that part was just too fast.
As much as I didn't enjoy the plot and its pacing, I was surprised of how powerful the ending was. Normally, after a villain is defeated in an animated movie, he or she usually gets a resentful treatment from the crowd. The Moon King was a typical villain. He destroyed the village and attempted to attack the villagers, but, at the end, when I predicted that they wouldn't treat him very friendly, I was wrong. And I'm glad that I was. What set him apart from other animated villains was that he received forgiveness. The villagers told him, after he had lost his memories, that he was a kind old man, the kindest in the village, even though he had just destroyed it. I just loved how they saw that he was blinded and decided to give him a chance to see. It taught us that everyone deserved forgiveness, and that the ways in which you tell a story can change people. Many considered "Kubo and the Two Strings" to not have a happy ending, and is therefore not suitable for kids, but what I see is a completely happy ending. Granted, the fairy tale-style happiness doesn't apply here, as Kubo's parents didn't survive at the end, but that is what makes the ending here so beautifully imperfect, so "human" and moving. Instead of choosing to destroy the person who took away his family - the Moon King, Kubo decided to forgive him and start life anew again (because he knew the Moon King, after all, was only a blinded old man), indicated by the last scene. He understood that they didn't leave this world just for him to live in sorrow and mourn for the rest of his life. Their departure motivated him to continue living his life and inspiring people with his- their story and adventure, though short, together. And, above all, he understood that they would forever live in him as long as he kept their story in his heart.
Overall, "Kubo and the Two Strings" is a visual masterpiece with a remarkable soundtrack and excellent voice acting. I just wish they had built a stronger plot to go with how beautiful it looked, though the ending did save it a little with impactful messages and a moving imperfection that makes it so human. However, the ending would have been even more powerful if the characters had been developed more fully throughout the plot. I would have given it a 7.75 out of 10 if IMDb had let me, but it was closer to 8 than 7 so I put 8 in the ratings.