More animated adventure hits the cinema screens late this summer with KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, this tale of adventure set in ancient Japan is laced with mystical and magical undertones and scored by Dario Marianelli, who has created a score that is certainly worth a listen, fully symphonic and also containing performances on ethnic Japanese instruments, I have to say I enjoyed this immensely. The movie which is produced by LAIKA STUDIOS who were responsible for THE BOXTROLLS tells the story of a young boy KUBO, who’s life has been thrown into disarray and turmoil after accidentally summoning a vengeful spirit from the past. This forces KUBO to go on the run and also join forces with MONKEY and BEETLE the trio then set out to unlock a secret legacy. Kubo armed with a magical instrument must find and do battle with the powerful MOON KING and other Gods and monsters to save his family and also to solve the mystery that lies behind the death of his Father who was the greatest Samurai warrior the world has ever seen. Marianelli’s score is filled to overflowing with sumptuous and richly thematic pieces, these range from comedic interludes, highly romantic and poignant compositions that are filled with swelling strings and lilting woodwinds to the dramatic and frantically action filled cues that are reminiscent of either gothic horror film scores or full on action movies with scores by the likes of Horner, Goldsmith and Silvestri.
The soundtrack has an air of the mystical about it also the composer employing choir to great effect at times,(again evoke the Horner sound, in movies such as WILLOW) percussion too takes a leading role and drives the score along at breakneck speed at key points within the work, strings, percussion and brass join forces in number of the cues to create a thundering and relentlessly fearsome combination in cues such as ABOVE AND BELOW which is Wagnerian in its style and sound at the off set, but after the initial opening soon takes a downward turn and becomes more mystical, this mood is short lived also, the orchestra rising and launching into a foreboding and non-stop all action pieces that is filled with powerful and rhythmic percussion that underlines and augments the composers rasping brass flourishes and driving strings. I personally adore track number, 11 MONKEYS STORY, it is so emotive and beautiful, the subtle use of strings brings out the heartfelt and highly affecting use of the KOTO and is certainly one of the highlights of the score. There are numerous exciting and adventure filled cues within this soundtrack but there are an equal number of lavish and lush sounding themes which make one’s hairs stand on end. This is a wonderfully theme laden score, that is in many ways what I call good old fashion film music, in other words one with substance and actual themes. highly recommended.