Laika burst onto the scene with the incredible Coraline and has followed it up with, to me some lesser films in Paranorman and especially Boxtrolls. But now they are back with an original Japanese fantasy epic. It follows a young boy named Kubo, a master storyteller and sole provider for his mother as they are shipwrecked on a village leaving her weak with only Kubo to help her. He goes into town and earns money by crafting wild samurai adventure epics using a guitar and origami paper. His mother warns him that he must always be back by sundown and one day he stays out too late and a evil spirit comes after him to take him away from his mother. He runs back home and with all her magical strength Kubo's mother protects him against the spirits and he is whisked away to an unknown location to recover three pieces of magical armor that he can use to take on the spirits and defeat them and avenge his family.
I really had a good time with this movie. It takes the hero's journey to wondrous places. It features engrossing storytelling within the film and as a whole. The acting is great with villains who are truly menacing. Stop motion certainly has a nice aesthetic but Kubo take it to it's technical and color filled extremes for breathtaking results. In the end credits they show a time lapse of one of the set pieces being built and operated and it's amazing what they were able to accomplish. It's creative and original with classic story elements of family, friendship, overcoming seemingly impossible odds, proving yourself and living the larger than life stories we only ever hear of.
It's a fairy tale story that rivals anything Disney and Pixar has put out and carves Laika their own personal niche in the animation world. Now if only more people would go and see their films! Dark creepy fairy tales revolving around family is something they do very well and it's a nice change from the somewhat lighter tone of Disney's offerings. If there is one action adventure quest you want to go on it's Kubo's.