Movie Name: Kung Fu Panda
Genre(s): Animated/Martial Arts/Family
Release Date(s): June 6, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG
Po has always dreamed of studying the martial arts but finds himself working in a noodle shop with his father. When Grand Master Oogway proclaims the Dragon Warrior is coming, Po is proclaimed the Dragon Warrior against Master Shifu’s wishes. Po must find his place among the Furious Five and find his destiny. When Shifu’s former pupil and adopted son Tai Lung escapes his imprisonment, Po must get the courage to fight and defeat him. Can Po become the Dragon Warrior that Master Oogway has predicted?
Directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne, Kung Fu Panda was met with positive reviews. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Animated Film (losing to WALL-E), and the series spun off a sequel, a holiday special, and a TV series. The film has a lot of famomous voices including the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogan, and Michael Clarke Duncan.
I actually enjoyed Kung Fu Panda more than I thought I would. I am a moderate Jack Black fan (I want like him more than I actually do). Black has a very distinctive voice and it is always “Jack Black” in a role no matter what the character is (from School of Rock to the King Kong remake to his video game Brutal Legend). Despite this, Kung Fu Panda ended up feeling a bit different.
It wasn’t necessarily the story I loved about Kung Fu Panda. The whole tale is very cliche (and even more cliche in the world of martial arts films). You pretty much knew what was going to happen throughout the film and there weren’t very many twists and turns (I did like aspects like they never explained how he was the son of a duck and made a joke along those lines).
I also am a fair weather fan of the art of computer animated films. I actually like the art of the opening dream sequence of Po more than the film art, though the film art was very good. I liked the stylized traditional art more than the “real” art of the movie.
What sold me on the movie is that despite the cliches and art, it is a pretty solid kung fu film. The movie has lots of homages to other films (the Furious Five are much like the attributes of the Deadly Venoms in the Five Deadly Venoms). The rooftop scenes are reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the rope bridge fight scene is very well choreographed. I liked that the actual fighting wasn’t taken as a joke nor was it really dumbed down for a kid audience (ok, maybe the takedown of Tai Lung at the end of the film by Po was).
Kung Fu Panda was a fun little movie that was better than I expected it to be. It has a nice cast and solid art though it isn’t even my style. I think that Po and his friends could have a long life if the cast chooses to keep making films. As mentioned, Kung Fu Panda was followed by Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011.
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