Warning: spoiler alert!
To be honest, the main reason I went to go watch this movie was because of the ridiculously high ratings it received on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t think I heard or saw any advertising about this movie outside of an email newsletter from Univsersal Studios promoting some screening event of the movie. My girlfriend also wanted to see it because she loves animated and epic movies like this. 😁
Hands down, this movie is a visual masterpiece. Absolutely loved the animation and visual storytelling. It was such a magical journey from start to finish, from the origami street show that Kubo put on, until the final fight scene with the Moon King.
While I loved the journey and development of our main protagonist, the one-eyed, magic-wielding, instrument-playing hero, I was a bit thrown off by what felt like holes in the plot and its progression.
For example, midway into the movie when monkey and beetle started to fight, it seemed like all the characters knew what was going to happen. To me, however, there didn’t seem any indication at all. Usually the audience is given obvious cues like shifts in music and visual cues. In this instance, Kubo outright told us what was going on. A small detail, but something like that interrupts the flow.
I thought the “plot twists” of the monkey and beetle being the parents came out of nowhere. It was kind of strange that there was such a huge personality shift when his mom changed into the monkey. There could have been more hinting or clues as to the truth, but again, it felt like we weren’t in on the secret.
If the dad was a masterful warrior and his origami showed him wielding a sword, why was he the sole archer in the group and never even held a the sword? Also, why was his mother a master swordsman out of nowhere? I expected the fighting roles to be switched.
Near the end, it also seemed like plot moved a bit too quick and felt rushed. The fight scene almost came out of nowhere and the villagers just popped in out of nowhere. Then suddenly, the movie jumped to the end and roll credits. Wait, what? Who is this old man? Is that the Moon King in human form? Was he always there? Did Kubo transform him and wipe his memory? So many unanswered questions 🤔
I’m a big fan of themes, especially ones about family. Nonetheless, this movie was BIG on family. The themes of family love, loss, and keeping the memories of loved ones in your heart as your strength were as prevelant as in Naruto. It probably doesn’t help that we’ve been on a Naruto binge these past few weeks so it’s hard not to see the parallels 😅 But it’s heartwarming to see that even though his parents were technically gone, they were still always protecting him throughout his quest.
Another big theme I noticed was using your inner strengths and talents shine. From the beginning, Kubo sets out to find the three pieces of a magical armor in order to face off against the Moon King. In the final battle, however, the armor is discarded and he relies on his magic and inner strength to defeat his grandfather. His eye, he mentions, gives him the strength to see and empathize with others, the source of his true strength.
Overall, loved the movie and I would definitely watch again. Despite the small plot holes, there’s much to be loved about it. The characters are love able and make you smile, and the visual storytelling will keep everyone from kids to adults captivated from start to finish.