Review: Kung Fu Panda

Published 6 years ago by , Updated June 12th, 2008 at 11:03 pm,


Short version: Kung Fu Panda is arguably the best animated movie Dreamworks has produced so far.

kung fu panda reviews Review: Kung Fu Panda

Sure, the commercials and the trailer are pretty funny, but is the actual movie any good?

Oh, yes.

Kung Fu Panda is the closest that Dreamworks has managed to get to the quality and feel of a Pixar film, and that’s a good thing. Although it’s rated PG like previous offerings from the studio like the Shrek series, here we’re missing the sharp edge and subtle “adult” humor.

Does it hurt the movie? Absolutely not.


This movie put a smile on my face right from the first thing that appeared on the big screen: a stylized version of the usual Dreamworks logo sequence that blends and leads right into the opening of the movie. The opening itself is “awesome” (see the movie and you’ll get the reference. The animation is highly stylized 2D and beautifully rendered in both style and action. Plus it’s laugh out loud funny to boot.

Soon thereafter we switch over to 3D CGI and again, really amazing visually. The detail and character design is fantastic and a pleasure to watch. Here we get to know “Po” the panda (Jack Black) and his father at the family noodle restaurant. “Dad” is a goose, but apparently the implications of that are lost on Po. Po has dreams of being a heroic kung fu master, but his dad is looking forward to his taking over the family restaurant. They have a good relationship, but dad is oblivious to Po’s real ambitions. On the other hand, Po doesn’t want to disappoint his father.

Po is a young, overweight fellow whose dreams seem to definitely exceed his abilities. He is accidentally chosen to fulfill a prophecy and joins his heroes, the legendary “Furious Five”: Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. Their master instructor is the great Master Shifu. The prophecy calls for the selection of the great “Dragon Warrior,” whose task it is to defeat the evil snow leopard Tai Lung, who has escaped from prison.

Following the very funny opening sequence, the movie seems to try a bit too hard to be funny for a while and while some of the bits are fairly funny, not all of them work for adults (kids on the other hand will laugh through it all). However soon enough the film finds its footing and combines heart with genuine humor. If you’re a martial arts/action movie fan in particular, much of the action in the film will leave you very satisfied. There’s a prison escape sequence that is jaw-droppingly cool.

As a matter of fact, I would say the action and fight scenes shown in this movie should be studied by the current crop of movie directors out there right now. You can actually see and understand what’s going on during the one on one battles. Fights are shown from a distance, without a lot of super-quick edits and with appropriate slow motion shots thrown in to enhance what we’re seeing. All in all it reminded me of those classic kung fu movies from the 1970s. Much better than the manic quick-cut, super close-up way of filming fight scenes today.

Then there’s the wit of the film, displayed throughout – in particular, the method found by Master Sifu to finally motivate and train Po was inspired. Jack Black was fairly subdued and it worked quite well, and the supporting characters were enjoyable too. I didn’t even recognize the voices until I saw the closing credits. Oh, speaking of which, hang around until they’re done as there’s a touching scene at the very end.

I highly recommend Kung Fu Panda for both kids AND grown-ups. icon smile Review: Kung Fu Panda

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: 4 star movies, kung fu panda

15 Comments

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  1. Sounds like Dreamworks may finally be learning something. Maybe “Over the Hedge” wasn’t the fluke I thought it might be.

    Hope they continue. Somebody’s got to keep Pixar from becoming complacent :)

    Still saving my money for Wall-E though. Unfortunately with so many flicks getting good reviews this year (I’ve heard good early buzz on Incredible Hulk as well) I’d blow my movie budget allowance before “The Dark Knight” opens, and I do not intend to miss that one at all.

    I will keep an eye out for it when it’s released to DVD, however.

  2. Going with the family to see it tomorrow. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I’ll probably wait for the DVD on this one. Maybe. I really can’t stand Jack Black and I think 90 minutes of listening to his voice will drive me mad.

  4. I’m hearing from my paper and other reviews that its strictly for kids, so I’m out.

    i’ll watch it when it comes out on dvd

  5. Andy, Jack Black was actually quite subdued in this one. Wasn’t over the top like he usually is.

    And Rob, sure, it’s aimed more at kids but I enjoyed the heck out of it for the cool fight and action scenes as well as the humor. :-)

    Vic

  6. I watched it with my bf and we both LOVED the movie! :) The fighting scenes which had PO in them were hilarious!

  7. Lol watched with my gf and we loved it, haha.

  8. Saw it saturday and I agree with pretty much everything in your review Vic. It was a lot fun and my daughter loved it.

  9. I saw it with both my boys; they loved it, I thought it was OK. As everyone has said, the fight scenes were very good. My youngest son loved Monkey; he asked me who my favorite was and I said Tai Lung (the bad guy). :-)

  10. WELL-WELL, KATZENBURG IS AT-IT AGAIN:CURIOUS,I CHECKED MY LOCAL CINEMA IN PARKER ARIZONA,AT THE ‘CRIT’ THEATERS AND VIEWED THE POSTER OF THIS ‘PANDA’ CHARACTER AND WAS GROSSED OUT BY THE ‘PANDA’ WEARING BURLAP-LOOKING PATCHES OF MATERIAL,LIKLEY HIDEING HIS ‘PARTS’,I GUESS.WHO WAS THE DREAMWORKS-’GENIUS’ THAT DID THAT?
    FOLKS,WHEN WILL YOU REALIZE/LEARN,THAT MAKING DECADES-OLD, STUPID-PREMISED FLICKS,OUT OF RECYCLED ‘FURRY’ ANIMALS IS ONE-BIG-SCAM!IT’S BEEN GOING FOR DECADES,SO FOOL ME ONCE-FOOL ME TWICE,SHAME ON YOU!
    THUS, A QUICKIE-CHOSEN,DESPERATE FOR ANYTHING ‘NEW’,LAME-CONCEPTED ‘PANDA’….. DOING VIOLENT MARSHAL ARTS..IS NEW AND ORIGIONAL? DREAMWORKS IS-YET-AGAIN FEEDING AT THE CORPRATE-TROUFF, VIA THE ‘REDUNDANT-DO-OVER-MAKEOVER-RE-TREND -TRASH,AND’ STARVED FOR ANYTHING NEW’ AND,TOON FANS FALL FOR THIS-AGAIN AND AGAIN!
    I WON’T SEE ‘PANDA’ UNLESS IT’S AT MY LOCAL VIDEO RENTAL FOR 50 CENTS,AND THATS IF I LIVE LONG ENOUGH,AND TOON FANS WON’T ‘LIVE LONG ENOUGH’ …EITHER TO SEE SOME ACTUAL ORIGIONAL AND UNIQUE TOONS,BECAUSE IT’S A MONOLY VIA THESE CORPRATE-COMMERCIAL TOON BILLION-AIRS,KEEPING EVERYTHING REALLY CREATIVE FROM EVER SEEING THE LIGHT OF DAY!
    BTW: ‘THIS PANDA’ACTION FIGURE, CAN BE PURCHASED,AT THE LOCAL ‘GREASE-BURGER’ JOINT,WHICH ,HAND-IN-HAND,CONTINUE TO USE CARTOONS TO CLOG OUR KIDS ARTERIES,AND HAVE HEART ATTACKS AT AGE 25,SO NOTHING HAS CHANGED-FOLKS,UNLESS YOU CHAN BOYCOTT THESE KID-EXPLOITING AGENDAS,BY THE BIG ANIMATION MONOPLIES. DAWK

  11. no doubt Vic, most high-end animated films are pretty decent.

    I just watched Bee Movie last night actually, hehe. But for things like this where it is more child-oriented, I have no need for paying $10 to see it in theatre (Especially with Hulk and the Happening coming out this weekend)

    :)

    All in all, I am hearing alot of positives for this movie.

  12. Rob, here’s a tip, bro. Do NOT go see ‘The Happening’ unless you’re in the mood to see an unintentional comedy.

    Vic

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