Kung Fu Panda is an exciting homage to the Chinese wuxia genre with lots of fighting and humor and one big panda. When the film first came out, I wasn’t interested in the least, as has been the case with several CGI movies of late, but, once I gave it a chance when it came on television, I was favorably impressed. Quite a few famous actors lend their voices to DreamWorks’s characters, and, though most aren’t given much to say, Jack Black as Po, Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, and Ian McShane as Tai Lung are certainly the most well-cast roles. Jack Black’s fanboy enthusiasm alternates between hilarious and annoying, but he makes Po endearing overall. The film also has some lovely animation, though I don’t care for some of the character designs and did not find the animation as stunning as many critics hailed.
The main draw for me, though, is the action. I haven’t seen many martial arts films, but some of the choreographed fights in this movie took my breath away. It all gets a bit repetitive by the end, particularly with the overuse of slow-motion shots, but Tai Lung’s rope bridge fight with the Furious Five and especially the villain’s jailbreak are among the best animated action sequences, in my opinion.
While there’s some “kung fu-ey” mysticism and the end has a hackneyed “believe in yourself” lesson, Po’s zealous perseverance in the midst of difficulty is admirable, and Shifu’s relationship with Tai Lung manages to evoke some pathos as well. Kung Fu Panda succeeds in combining laughs and thrills in an entertaining way that has made it one of DreamWorks Animation’s most successful franchises.
Best line: (Shifu, as Po is doing this) “Panda, we do not wash our pits in the Pool of Sacred Tears.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 7 Originality: 4 Watchability: 6 Other (some awkward, less-than-funny scenes): -4 TOTAL: 32 out of 60
Next: #288: Kung Fu Panda 2 (yep)
© 2014 S. G. Liput