The latest addition to the DreamWorks Animation catalog is one of their best, coming not far behind Shrek as one of their best efforts yet.
The film is about the training and ascension of a wannabe Kung Fu Master, Po, an overweight Panda that worships the Furious Five and the Masters of the
Presiding over the Furious Five, Tigress, Viper, Crane, Monkey, and Mantis, is Shifu who trains and observes their everyday activities as they prepare to possibly be named chosen to be the Dragon Warrior who will get to look upon the Dragon Scroll and learn the secret to limitless power and ability. Shifu’s master, and the originator of the martial arts, is a turtle named Oogway, who has a vision of the return of Tai Lung, a rouge pupil of Shifu who was as masterful as any, but craved the power of being the Dragon Warrior. Tai Lung was imprisoned after ravaging the
Upon his vision, Oogway decides it is time to name the Dragon Warrior.
To say more would be a disservice as I have shared a lot, but nothing you couldn’t have found in the trailer. The film however has plenty you couldn’t find there as well. The film is consistently funny and Jack Black’s
The Furious Five cast does well for what they are given, and one of the let downs is that we didn’t get to see more of them. Many of them are constrained to just a few lines here and there, with Angelina Jolie getting the brunt of the work as the bitter Tigress. Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, and David Cross all get decent bits of humor throughout the film as Monkey, Mantis, and Crane, with Lucy Liu as Viper having little to nothing to say most of the time. Though the actors don’t have a lot to say, their characters have plenty to do, and kick some serious butt doing it. Their big action set piece on a bridge is fantastic and imaginative extended fight scene. The real stand out scene of the film, and is going to be tough to beat over the course of the summer, is the absolutely awe inspiring and breathtaking escape scene of Tai Lung, unbelievably awesome; worth of the price of admission alone. Thankfully so is the rest of the film, with some wicked action bits and training scenes and a story that isn’t really that original, but sends a good message to the target audience, kids, while also being extremely entertaining to all ages.
Lastly, all of the animation is superb with a cool blend of varying 2-d and 3-d styles and cool uses of slow mo in all of the right places. The Kung Fu action is also well choreographed and looks really great as the combatants fight and fly around some beautiful Chinese inspired scenery.
In the end, Kung Fu Panda is a great animated family film for all ages. Awesome action, great characters, and probably the coolest scene I have seen in a theater all year. Wall-E has some competition this month, but regardless how that one turns out, Kung Fu Panda will stand as an excellent work and one of the better animated films of the last few years, and probably the best non-Pixar animated products you will see in a while.