Newest Review: ... Fu Panda 2 that was released in 2011. You can currently purchase the film on DVD from Amazon for £9.47 (September 2012).... more
If you were a panda but your dad was a duck, you'd do Kung Fu too.
Kung Fu Panda (DVD)
Member Name: charby
Kung Fu Panda (DVD)
Advantages: Great film, great animation, very funny, suitable for all ages
Disadvantages: The unlikely hero premise won't win prizes for originality
Fortunately, Kung Fu Panda was a film which lived up to my expectations, and was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. The storyline was great, the animation was sensational, and the dialogue was very well written and hilarious throughout. In short, it's all you would really want in a film, and I may as well end my review here....
Though, of course, I'm not going to do that, because I want to talk more about this film that I enjoyed so much. Firstly, the storyline. Kung Fu Panda is, unsurprisingly, about a panda who lives in China, and runs a noodle bar with his dad, but who is really a Kung Fu fanatic, who dreams of becoming a Kung Fu fighter like his idols, the Furious Five. One day he goes to watch a Kung Fu display involving the Furious Five themselves, and in an 'accident' he ends up being chosen as the one to fulfil the ultimate Kung Fu destiny, and save the valley from Tai Lung, an evil Kung Fu snow leopard; though of course, there are no accidents. This is a storyline that seems pretty insane, until you realise that this is an animated family film, and as such having anthropomorphic animals as main characters is by no means unprecedented, and is fact fairly standard for this genre. The premise of having a 'chosen one', whose task it is to save everyone against one evil being has been done time and time again also, and the fact that this 'chosen one' is a character that seems inept for the job or is seen as somehow the wrong choice isn't going to surprise many people either. Despite having a fairly predictable premise, Kung Fu Panda doesn't feel like a film which we have seen before, albeit being about a panda doing Kung Fu (which I don't think anyone has ever seen before, and if you have, please let me know what you were taking at the time!), and manages to keep the viewer interested as to what will happen next.
So far, so good, now onto the graphics. The animation looks very similar to that of most other Dreamworks films, and unsurprisingly not a far cry from Pixar films as well. The difference with this film, however, is the fact that the scenes of Kung Fu are animated in a spectacular way, and although we know that what we are seeing isn't real (unless you're living in a crazy animated world, and again, let me know what you're on if you are), these scenes are very atmospheric and suck the viewer in to its own reality. Imagine what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would have been like if it was animated, and starred pandas, tigresses and other weird and wonderful animals instead of people, and you're not far off what Kung Fu Panda is like in terms of visuals. Some of the leaps and moves that the characters perform look as if they could almost be possible to do in real life, as the animation is good enough to make it look realistic and plausible, though of course they definitely wouldn't be. The landscapes are done beautifully, and although I have never been to China, the film depicts an idyllic Chinese land, complete with traditional buildings and monuments, that give the film a further authentic feel. There are some other fantastic touches involving the animation that make the film feel more special, such as the tigresses deep shining eyes, though to appreciate them, you really have to watch the film.
I now want to move onto the acting in the film, though of course this is difficult to do with an animated picture, as the actors only provide the voices, though that isn't to say that this work doesn't involve skill and talent as well. The main stars include Jack Black as the panda, as well as Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie (and, bizarrely enough, martial arts legend Jackie Chan, though he only has two or three lines at most), and all of them do their parts very well. The test of whether the voice actors are doing their jobs well is largely as to whether you believe that the voices belong to these animals, rather than just being a voice over, and on this account they gain full marks. Jack Black's voice was very convincing as the lovable chubby panda, and added the right dose of comedy that the film required.
Speaking of comedy, I have to say that Kung Fu Panda is one of the funniest films that I have seen in a long time. I was watching it with four friends, and all of us were laughing our heads off for the duration of the DVD, and some scenes were truly hilarious. Comedy in a film aimed at children is usually added just so that parents and other adults can bare to watch it with their children, as there are many in jokes in specifically for them which will simply go over the bairns heads, though this movie goes one better and contains comedy that can be appreciated by all ages. There are many visual jokes (when the panda shakes his belly and it keeps moving by itself due to his chubbiness is a particular favourite of mine), as well as amusing situations, expressions and dialogue. Anyone who has a sense of humour will find at least a couple of moments in this film that makes them laugh, and for the majority of people it should be laugh a minute as it was for me.
So, in conclusion, Kung Fu Panda is a great film that I would recommend to pretty much anybody, as it can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. I would say that even if you don't think you're a fan of animated movies, please give it a go, as the film is highly enjoyable for anyone who likes action, comedy or impressive special effects, not just those with families. It is definitely one of Dreamworks' best films, along with Shrek and Shrek 2, and rivals many of Pixar's films, such as Monsters Inc. and Toy Story, though I couldn't quite rate it above those classics, though that doesn't stop it from being an amazing movie and well worthy of five stars.
Summary: Another great film from Dreamworks.