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Kung Fu Panda

A 2008 Dreamworks Animation Movie directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne

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Beautiful animation, but utterly predictable

  • Oct 31, 2008
  • by
Rating:
-1
KUNG FU PANDA is a perfectly acceptable entry in the ever growing list of CGI animated films. Yet, because the list is not yet long enough to stretch back more than one generation, it is inevitable that the film be compared to TOY STORY I & II, INCREDIBLES, SHREK, ICE AGE, MONSTERS INC, FINDING NEMO, ROBOTS, etc. etc. This may not be entirely fair (it's not like we compare a film like UNFORGIVEN to every western ever made)...but it's true nonetheless. Upon leaving the theatre, my first thoughts were, "well, it's better than SHARK'S TALE and ROBOTS and ICE AGE II...but isn't up there with RATATOUILLE and SHREK either." I should be judging it on its own terms. So I'll try to do that.

This is a fairly standard "sports underdog" movie in many ways. The hapless Panda, voiced by Jack Black, is clumsy, overweight and hardly built to excel in Kung Fu, a sport / art form which he knows inside-out (as a mega-fan would). Yet, when a serious threat to his town is unleashed, a wise old turtle comes to believe that this Panda may be "the dragon warrior" of legend, the "one" who can save them all.

Panda thinks this idea is pretty ridiculous, BUT it gives him a chance to hang out with some of his heroes, true Kung-Fu artists such as Tiger (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Cricket, Snake, etc. He relishes being with them, and even blows off most of their insults and mockery.

But his "master" (Dustin Hoffman, doing a really nice job here) is compelled to train Panda, even though he thinks it is a waste of time. What do YOU think? Will Panda find new talents in himself that he never suspected he had? Will he earn the respect of his heroes? Will he save the town?

I won't answer these questions here...but suffice it to say that you know the answers to these questions before the movie even starts. This is a film where the journey to the answers is the key.

The journey is amusing enough. The Chinese village is rendered lovingly, hinting at the feeling of watercolor painting, yet staying true to the almost 3D style of the best CGI films. There is no question the movie looks great. Within these settings, the journey unfolds with funny scenes showing the clumsy Panda attempting Kung Fu. Yes, there's even a training montage.

In fact, the plot is so predictable that the film would be thoroughly tedious were it not for the relationship between master and student. Black's Panda is a nice creation...he's funny & smart, and while he feels overmatched physically, he doesn't actually seem to think there's anything wrong with that. He gets down on himself at times...but is remarkably resilient. Essentially, even if his self-confidence is low (he knows he is not likely to be a pure Kung Fu genius) his self-ESTEEM is always high. Hoffman's master is a bundle of energy and aggravation, and makes a nice foil.

I was disappointed that the other characters were so minor. While I don't watch movies like this for the actors behind the voices, I had expected the Kung Fu heroes to be more a part of things, and to add more dynamics. In fact, they were pretty minor.

The climactic scenes were not as exciting as I would have liked, either. So in the end, the film was a mixture of amusing and creative bits, covered by a layer of predictability. KUNG FU PANDA, no matter how great it looked, could not throw off the unoriginality of story.

I believe kids will like it, and I wasn't exactly bored myself. But whereas TOY STORY and MONSTERS INC have warranted repeat viewings over the years, KUNG FU PANDA will probably NOT earn a space on my movie shelf.

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More Kung Fu Panda reviews
review by . June 07, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****      artial arts cinema is nearly dead. It dies slowly. And it will die for some time now. I know why the world is so cruel to the genre. In order to satisfy the audience built for a martial arts film, you must be a master at directing such things. You cannot entertain merely with fights generated through CGI animation. This is because people want to be involved. People want a movie that expresses the troubles as well as the strengths of a warrior. This kind of …
review by . January 22, 2011
If you will permit me to share something about myself, I am very close with my dad and my brothers and every father's day, we all go to the movies. For the Father's Day of 2008, we picked Kung Fu Panda and boy did I love it. Not only did I absolutely love it, it's actually my second favourite Dreamworks movie and it's one of my favourite animated movies of all time. The cast is wonderful, the animation is lovely, and its a true underdog story. All this and more make this one of the …
review by . September 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Modern Classic All the Way
   I’ll admit that I usually shy away from films that seem to be showered in hype.  I like to march to the beat of my own drum when it comes to discovering an under-appreciated gem and yet still found myself intrigued by the glowing opinions surrounding DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda.  Sure Jack Black was decent in Shark Tale and Eastern Philosophy would probably naturally lend itself to the notion of martial arts masters who just so happen to be adorable talking animals …
Quick Tip by . July 25, 2010
what can i say iam a big kid at heart..... i love this and iam 23 years old ha-ha lol
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
This film is really cute... Jack Black and Angelina Jolie are marvelous in it...
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I took my girls to see this movie and they laughed and so did I. I would love to see it again!
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
this is a great family movie. ALSO SHOWS THAT NO MATTER THE OUTSIDE A perrence you can do it.
Quick Tip by . March 10, 2010
This was a very funny movie, not just for kids. Everyone can relate and enjoy.
review by . October 10, 2009
Kung Fu Panda is a story about a fat and lazy panda, named Po, who loves Kung Fu and is tired of his boring life spending all day working in his father's noodle shop. Po is unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po's dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five - Tigress, Viper, Mantis, Crane and Monkey - under the leadership of their Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard …
review by . October 10, 2009
Kung Fu Panda is a story about a fat and lazy panda, named Po, who loves Kung Fu and is tired of his boring life spending all day working in his father's noodle shop. Po is unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po's dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five - Tigress, Viper, Mantis, Crane and Monkey - under the leadership of their Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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Wiki

What's a panda to do when his dreams of kung-fu awesomeness awake to the cold reality of noodle-making? Clumsy, overweight Po (Jack Black) dreams of becoming a kung fu master like China's revered "furious five," but instead seems destined to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in the restaurant business. When great leader Oogway has a vision that the imprisoned kung fu warrior Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will soon escape, he declares it time to choose China's dragon warrior--one kung fu master deemed worthy of possessing the dragon's scroll and its secret to limitless power. Po and all the townspeople rush to the Jade Palace atop the highest mountain to witness the contest between Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogan), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu), but Po is locked outside the palace. After a miracle of sorts, Po lands inside the palace gates, where he is chosen as the dragon warrior and placed under the tutelage of the decidedly non-plussed master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). An unconventional student to say the least, hilarity reigns as Shifu tries desperately to make Po into some semblance of a kung fu warrior. Can Po possibly fulfill his destiny as dragon warrior, or was Oogway's final decision a critical mistake? A film rich with hilarious moments, superior animation, and an important message about believing in oneself and the power that comes from within,Kung Fu Pandais great entertainment ...
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Details

Genre: Family
Release Date: June 6, 2008, June 6, 2008
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 31min
Studio: Dreamworks Animated
First to Review

"Pandamonium"
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