Sight Reader | Fort Collins, CO United States | 08/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With deep foreboding, I walked into this movie braced for second rate animation (at least compared to Pixar), endless fights between cartoons (as in the CGI "Clone Wars"), and a cultural sensitivity that was either painfully preachy (like "Mulan") or outright insulting (like "Aladdin").
At first, my dread seemed confirmed. Poor Dustin Hoffman mangles Chinese names without mercy - so much so that James Hong, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan have to deliberately mispronounce stuff just to match what he says.
But once the movie got rolling, I found myself grinning from ear to ear in sheer delight. Yes, it's true, Dreamworks can't compete with Pixar's technology, but they make up for it with beautiful graphic design, sheer wit and - of course - those hilariously quivering "Scrat Eyes". What's more, the animators somehow manage to make Kung Fu battles between cartoons both exciting and enjoyable - every bit the match of live action fights (which nowadays are nothing more than CGI with faces pasted on).
However, the most remarkable thing about this film is how faithful it is to Chinese culture - family dynamics, Buddhist philosophy, values, and even martial arts - this film simply HAS to have been written by Chinese. There is never a moment where it strains to "score points" with political correctness. Its characters are never tediously noble "anti-stereotypes", but are instead lovingly depicted with all their flaws intact while uniquely Chinese messages are delicately hidden within a plot crammed with excitement and laughter. Here you experience how parental love turns into suffocating pressure, here you see teenage rebellion as a monstrosity rather than a virtue, here you see the quirky characters of a city (complete with that wobbly "bound foot" walk), here you hear the wisdom of Zen detachment, and here you experience the sacred relationship between student and teacher.
Perhaps my opinion is biased by the surprise this movie gave to my low expectations, but I can't help but see this film as an unappreciated but precious gem. Now if only someone could do the same thing with Islamic culture...!"
The secret ingredient
Amanda Richards | Georgetown, Guyana | 06/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You have to try to understand a Noodle eating lazy panda Who should be serving noodles faster But dreams that he's a kung-fu master
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):
1. Noodle eating lazy panda, Po (Jack Black) dreams of becoming a kung-fu master. 2. He's really a waiter at the family noodle shop 3. A new Dragon Master is about to be named to battle the fearsome Tai Lung (Ian McShane), just in case he succeeds in breaking out of his escape-proof prison 4. The front runners for the job are the members of the "Furious Five" - Master Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Crane (David Cross), Master Mantis (Seth Rogen), Master Viper (Lucy Liu) and master Monkey (Jackie Chan) 5. Po drops in on the ceremony, causing an upset 6. The soup hits the fan when Tai Lung escapes 7. Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) has to make a martial arts master out of a panda bear, and fast! 8. With the right motivation, Po learns the secret of the sacred Dragon scroll 9. Crouching Leopard meets Lazy Panda with hidden Dragon 10. Exciting fight scenes ensue
Take the kids out for a treat This kung fu cartoon's really neat Despite his metabolic rate This panda is a heavyweight
This is a spectacular animated action film for all ages. Big name actors, non-stop action and with a moral to the story to boot. Who could ask for more?
We COULD ask for a sequel!
Amanda Richards, June 8, 2008 "
Cute Animated Comedy That Inspires Lessons in Life
Justin Heath | Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada | 10/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the very beginning, Kung Fu Panda had me practically falling out of my seat --- laughing. It was the perfect blend of comedy, heart, and action, all necessary elements in a successful and great animation/CGI film, in the tradition of The Incredibles and (less action, but containing the heart and laughter) Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.
I was laughing, smiling, and guffawing at Po, the main protagonist (voiced by Jack Black) and his misadventures at becoming a Kung Fu expert. This was certainly a flawed character, one that a lot of people can relate to because he dreams, he's funny, and he can laugh at himself. Also, the story was pretty clear and easy to follow because the storytelling was well crafted, and the animation was paired well with characters brought vividly to life by some of the most famous names in Hollywood.
Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman are downright excellent as the main characters, and Ian McShane as the bad dude gave it the right fearful presence. Other big name stars don't shine as much, but that's because their roles are rather limited in the film. But that's still okay because the animators should be given equal credit (if not more) for delivering the funny, action and heart elements of this movie in an effective, amazing and (I've got to use this) AWESOME manner. Visually, this movie is stunning (notice all those scenic shots of the Chinese mountains, bodies of water, and the bridge scene; not to mention the action animation version of "The Matrix" with slow-mo)... simply a delight to watch.
It's clear that Dreamworks has gotten back in the animation game with Kung Fu Panda, after slight ho-hums in Shrek 3 and Bee Movie (call me crazy, but I liked Over The Hedge more than those two). Hopefully, it should earn well over $500M worldwide because it is so good.
This movie rightfully belongs in the top animation movies of all time (okay, let's not include the classic fairy tales of old; let's begin with the 90's onwards), alongside my faves "The Incredibles" "Finding Nemo" and "Beauty & The Beast." Has the makings of being a classic.
Not giving up and believing in yourself makes Kung Fu Panda
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 09/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was surprisely fun to watch and Paramount Pictures is having a Summer to remember at the box office this year. First it was "Iron Man" then came "Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Both films were the weekend box office champions in their respective released week. Each one collecting more that $100 millions dollars in their opening weekends. Now the turn is for Kung Fu Panda to match those numbers, which is reachable for this furry, funny and cute big panda.
The visual aspect of the movie is golden and the animation is one of Dreamworks' best. An attempt to put to use new technology into the most dramatic scenes, the sound was a big match and that's what this film delivers. It is easy to see the detailed work in cinematography when an ancient Chinese town is well illustrated as well as the Jade Temple and surroundings uncovering memories of the many martial arts Chinese movies for some of the old crowd and for the young exposing them to new lands and frontiers.
Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman voices' in this film were just right. Each one giving strong life to their characters, especially Jack Black who provided that special touch that only he can give to his characters. The rest of the cast (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu ) were ok. The biggest problem is that the script didn't provide supporting characters enough dialogue for these actors to expand their talents. On the other hand, children get to know "the legendary furious five" kung fu masters which as animals use their animal characteristics to fight the evil Tai Lung.
This cute, furry and funny film is set to get all audiences crazy about a little more than the Panda dance and that is to "be your own hero". It is just full family entertainment. "
'Kung Fu Panda' Kicks!
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 11/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enter this movie with one question: Was Jack Black born to play the voice of Po, or was he merely groomed to play it? I wouldn't be surprised if the whole movie were centered with him in mind. `Kung Fu Panda' is another Dreamworks' production, one that employs or improves admirable animation tricks--giving the film the vitality of a free-flowing digital puppet show. A visual delight, the film has the innovation of `Surf's Up (Full Screen Special Edition)' combined with the entertainment value of `Ratatouille'. Sent mostly on the fast track, the film has a good ol' witty time matched with artful adventure.
Literally and figuratively, Po (Black) dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. He's a chubby Panda bear who has more passion for eating than making the food at his family's noodle restaurant. As he's humoring his stork father, a crisis develops in the village: A prophecy states Tai Lung (Ian McShane), a dragon more aptly described as a snow leopard with pouncing Kung Fu proficiency will escape Chorgum Prison. The town converges on Jade Square, the center of The Valley of Peace where holy wise tortoise, Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), will announce the chosen Dragon Warrior. Clumsily, Po propels himself in the center where Oogway, pointing at Tigress has his finger on the panda instead.
All the voices are right on. Jack Black as already mentioned makes all the "That's cool," aphorisms work through his own hapless character. Happily his lines lack the hyperactivity of Po's training or Black's own character past. ("I know you're being all mystical and Kung Fu-ooey," he chortles.) Hardly discernible is Dustin Hoffman, perfectly cast as the quiet curmudgeon master trainer, Shifu (Chief-u). Some of the funniest scenes go along with Po's training. "There is now a level zero!" he proclaims after Po's first session. There's also an acupuncture scene that makes a point of Po's ridiculous novice status. Flanking him are the furious five, including a viper (Lucy Liu), a preying mantis (Seth Rogen), a monkey (Jackie Chan), a crane (David Cross) and a tigress (Angelina Jolie), each bringing a certain perfection to their parts. They're all Shifu's prodigies, and each sport some superhero Kung Fu moves as well as resentful remarks for their new dragon slayer trainee.
Adding fortune cookie wisdom to the mix both illuminates and entertains. ("One takes one's destiny on the road to avoid it." and "There's no such thing as an accident." Now I may be all wrong, but I thought Freud said that one.) Everyone from director Jack Stevenson to editor Clare Knight deserve kudos for assembling such a fine feature. Containing a well done script, shaking up the animation formula, and mixing funny with fabulous action scenes, 'Kung Fu Panda' may duke it out with 'Wall-E (Widescreen Single-Disc Edition)' in the animation category when it comes to Oscar time."