This movie had “hipster fave” written all over it. Stop motion animation against all that CGI nonsense is like roasting your own coffee beans versus buying instant. So, I was obviously prepared to hate it. But it’s absolutely charming. It has its own style and a light touch throughout. Unlike hipsters it doesn’t take itself seriously, and yet manages to be moving and thought provoking. And the images are beautiful. It mixes different influences from Japanese art to Greek mythology and Disney animation, effortlessly and without needing to highlight them for you. The sidekicks are wry and amusing without being annoying – every other animation might want to take note of this in particular.
Nearly all films carry a meta-message. Even when they don’t. Taken is really about fear of foreigners and male white supremacy. It just looks like an action flick. Jaws is about three aspects of masculinity. The Thing is about having tendrils spin out from your face. What Kubo is about is the power of storytelling. The plot concerns this literally as Kubo spins stories from his two strings, but also in the medium. “Look” all that stop motion implores you, “we are constructing narrative here with our bare hands and narrative is powerful”. This is both a timeless message and one with particular currency.
But, then maybe I’m just a hipster.