This is the fourth feature from the stop-motion geniuses at LAIKA. Following “Coraline” [IMDB] in 2009, the small studio has fallen into a comfortable two-year release schedule with “ParaNorman” [My Review at MoreBrains.com] in 2012 and “The Boxtrolls” [My Review] in 2014 and now this in 2016. Each and every film is a modern classic and “Kubo” is no different.
Ransom Riggs’ best-selling debut novel seems tailor made for Tim Burton’s [IMDB] off-kilter sensibilities. Most children are normal, some are odd, some are gifted and some very few are peculiar. Peculiar children might be as strong as a dozen men, be lighter than air or able to start fires with their hands. Such children are cared for by the Ymbrynes, magical women who create isolated loops in time to protect their wards.
Consider this: A movie radically changes its premise well over a year into production, with less than 18 months to release. To support this, a secondary character is promoted to lead and a new director is brought in to partner with the existing crew. All of this comes from a team of no less than 10 writers. The entire perspective of the film altered.
The question: is this movie is a hot, steaming mess?
My son was four in 2002 when Insomniac released the first “Ratchet and Clank” game on the PlayStation 2. He wasn’t truly able to play, but he watched me avidly and was upset if he discovered that I’d played without him. With the release of following games, they became our favorite series. We’d play through the games together, sharing our discoveries, and comparing notes. He’s 17 now (and I’m old). Will the modern reimagining of that first game and the companion feature film hold up to our idealized memories?
I’ve got a soft spot for “The Peanuts”. I’m hardly alone in that. 50 years of comics, dozens of television specials, four feature films, two dozen video games and an effectively infinite number of advertisements, tie-ins and merchandise have allowed millions to nurture their own soft spots for Charlie Brown and the gang. Thier last big screen appearance was 35 years ago; does the gang still have what it takes to put asses in seats?
After many years building their skills producing award winning short films, Pixar quietly slipped Toy Story [IMDB] onto the big screens in 1995. Initially a curiosity – it was the first feature-length computer animated film – it quickly won over audiences and critics. The movie became an instant classic and established Pixar as a force to be reckoned with.
This initial success was short lived. It was replaced by mind-numbing, Earth-shattering success. Their 16 feature films have earned 12 Oscars and over four billion dollars in ticket sales (and that’s not counting the billions more in home media, partnerships and merchandising). No studio in history has enjoyed such a consistent record over such a long period of time.
In 1999, untried director Brad Bird [IMDB] convinced Warner Bros. to give him $70 million to create a period sci-fi animated feature based on Ted Hughes 1968 novel The Iron Man. Due to some bizarre circumstances he was given significant control over the production and was able to follow his vision. He made the movie that he wanted to make. It was amazing.
Never (yet) having been Hispanic I must admit that my understanding of Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) relies mostly on faded memories of “Grim Fandango”. That said I’ve always had a firm impression that it would be right up my alley. Skeletons, food, cemeteries, food, family, food – that’s the kind of thing that I could really get behind.
This was a good movie. A fun movie. No complaints really. Solid, if clichéd, characters, cool visuals and some weepy-eyed moments. Heck, Disney went all out on this by (sorta) orphaning this hero twice! Everybody knows that a Disney hero isn’t worth shit unless they’ve got at least a few dead family members (yes, Merida, Bob Iger’s going to get your parent’s Scottish asses any minute now).
I’ve unfortunately lost track of anime in the last few years. I’d keep up with the latest releases from Studio Ghibli and the odd TV show, but overall I just didn’t maintain my interest as I once had. Dipping my toe back in, I looked for recommendations and this kept getting mentioned.