Kung Fu is the one thing that anyone can sit down and watch for hours without fear of not being completely entertained. The over the top action, the larger than life characters, the ridiculously compelling plots, all topped off with the allure and appeal of Japanese aesthetics. I have not-so-secretly wanted to catch Kung Fu Panda for a while now and have been looking forward to its release since the early ads this year. I was hesitant at first after finding out it was a DreamWorks movie, as their 3D work has not up to this point really impressed me. None the less my like of kung-fu, animated movies and Japanese aesthetics won me over and I went to go see it today. It took only a few minutes of the 2D animated introduction to have me feeling very glad that I decided to see it.
The themeing, characters, action sequences and humor all out did what I was expecting and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There wasn’t quite that level of Pixar polish on the storytelling, but the gags and characters where much more on-point than the Shrek’s of the world. This movie is a step in the right direction for DreamWorks Animation in my opinion, and an all-round entertaining summer movie for the family.
One of Kung Fu Panda’s greatest assets is its voice cast, and it brings me great happiness to say that I didn’t even realize the true celebrity behind a lot of the voices until the end credits. This pleases me because I have always been a firm believer that 3D movies rely to heavily on celebrity voices to carry themselves. Kung Fu Panda’s only noticeable casting is Jack Black as Po- who does a good job, but plays the same character he has in every movie he’s ever done (but with more fur than usual). That’s fine, it works here. But the rest of the characters are voiced by names like Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan…and I had no idea. They could have saved the money and cast Saturday morning cartoon voice actors and no-one would be any the wiser. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t, but I am really pleased that Seth Rogan can do a voice for a minor-character without the need for a Knocked-Up or pot joke following said character whenever he’s on screen.
I loved that they made characters out of the different fighting styles (Mantis is a praying mantis, Monkey is a money etc.)The ending got a little too ‘even fat people can be great’-ish for my liking even though that was to be expected based on the plot progression, but the fight scenes more than dropkicked any bad tastes out of my mouth. So while not as compelling or engaging as it could, Panda’s action and art direction combined with the humorous characters still manage to put on a good show. Plus, any movie where the first line is ‘So you like to chew? Why don’t you… CHEW ON MY FIST?!’ is a winner in my eyes.