Stop motion animation giant Laika consistently produces alluring and powerful films. Kubo and the Two Strings, directed by Laika CEO Travis Knight, continues this tradition. Kubo may be the best-looking stop-motion film ever produced, complete with fantastical creatures, awe-inspiring landscapes, and even action sequences that shame actual action movies. In addition, unlike some of the animated films this summer, Kubo and the Two Strings packs significant thematic punch, deftly handing complex issues and ideas. There are serious issues with the film, mostly revolving around the uneven pacing and lackluster vocal performances (which may actually be poor dialogue writing – it is hard to say). In the grand scope, the result is an absolute treasure, but one in which you have to slog through some needlessly slow and awkward moments. Fortunately, it is just so damn pretty and cool that, for some people, that won’t matter too much.
Have you ever seen a Mexican standoff fist fight – with two of the combatants chained together? Mad Max: Fury Road treats us to this scene during a lull in the action, as a way for the audience to catch our breath. This film is an absolute assault on the senses in the very best way possible, and when the credits finally rolled at the end, the reality shock was palpable. I felt as though I needed my mind to recover, to slowly remove itself from the astounding world of George Miller’s action masterpiece, which may be the best action film of the decade, if not the century.