By Robin E. Simmons



Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation with an absorbing — and bravely melancholy — story that has something to offer audiences of all ages.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a colorful, emotional epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA. Clever, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living telling fables to the people of his seaside town including Hosato, Cary-Hiroyuki, and Kameyo. But Kubo’s comfortable existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey. Kubo), sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (beautifully voiced by Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters, to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his broken family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

Kubo 2Moviegoers are drowning in sequels of just just about every genre. While audiences demand original content, they (we?) continue to reward sequels with hard-earned money. Laika Studio (“Coraline,” “Boxtrolls) deserves the public’s support with its beautiful, truly artistic and innovative product that sidesteps easy categorization. I love Kubo’s artistic style that references the paper folding art of origami and other ethnic traditions. Director Travis Knight, the son of Nike founder Phil Knight, is the CEO of Laika Entertainment. His life-long obsession with art and movies is a treasure we can all enjoy. Now playing at the refurbished Mary Pickford Theater. Recommended.



The beloved animated tale returns to home theater screens when the endearing “The Iron Giant Signature Edition” released for the first time on Blu-ray. The classic story tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille, and “Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”). The new home version arrives fully remastered and enhanced with two all-new scenes.

“Iron Giant” is based upon the 1968 story, ”Iron Man,” by the British poet laureate Ted Hughes. The film is about a giant metal machine that drops from the sky and frightens a small town in Maine circa 1957, only to find a friend in a young boy named, Hogarth who helps the giant alien robot ultimately find its humanity and saves the towns people of their fears and prejudices.

When “The Iron Giant” arrived in theaters it was hailed as an “instant classic” by the Wall Street Journal.” Filmmaker Brad Bird made his stunning directorial debut with this film and has gone on to win two Oscars®, as well as worldwide acclaim with his work on both animated and live-action features.

Winner of numerous awards, “The Iron Giant” is the tale of an unlikely friendship between a rebellious boy kid named Hogarth and a huge robot, voiced by a then little-known actor named Vin Diesel. The voice cast also included Jennifer Aniston and Harry Connic Jr.

the-iron-giantThe film is based on a screen story by Brad Bird and a screenplay by Bird and Tim McCanlies adapted from poet Ted Hughes’ book “The Iron Man.” The film was first releases in the summer of 1999.

The film was a labor of love for those involved in its making. Its large and expanding fan-base has long-requested a deluxe Blu-ray edition.

The “Signature Edition” Blu0ray disc contains the following special features:

The “Giant’s Dream” documentary (new) is the dramatic story about a rare moment in movie history that allowed a first-time director to make one of the world’s greatest animated films utilizing stylized animatics, archival footage, original concept art and revealing interviews. This fascinating featurette charts the incredible ups and downs, industry firsts, and amazing history behinds this now iconic film, and it’s rebel director, Brad Bird. There’s also an incisive commentary from Bird, additional scenes, featurtettes including an alternative opening. Warner bro. Blu-ray.

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