Kung Fu Panda

Dreamworks newest animated hit, Kung Fu Panda, certainly made a big splash at the box office this past summer, and has claim to one of the rarest of all DVD releases…a Sunday. I myself got my copy from Netflix on Saturday, and sat back to watch this insanely goofy, very well animated, often funny and occassionally cute animated film starring Jack Black as the voice of the tubby-funny-Panda.

The plot of the film centers around a mysterious prophecy that one day the dragon warrior will be chosen to rise up and defend the valley of peace from the return of Tai Ling (Ian McShane), who was imprisoned years ago and who believes he himself is the true dragon warrior and destined to learn the ultimate secrets of Kung Fu. Instead, when it comes time to choose the new dragon warrior, it is lazy, fat and out of shape Kung Fu enthusiast, Po (Jack Black) who is chosen and who will be reluctantly trained by Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), who has also trained the famous “Furious Five”. After Tai Ling escapes his prison, Shifu must act quickly to train the unprepared Panda to defend the rest of the valley.

This was another film I skipped in the summer, both because way too many cool movies come out, and because I had very low expecations for this one. Despite this, or maybe because of them?, I did end up enjoying the film, but I doubt I would ever need to scratch this itch again, if you get my meaning. Having said that, I can say the film is fun and very entertaining in areas and has jaw-droppingly well done animation. The character designs are all very well done, the color pallette and the blend of computer animation and the very well done, and very cool opening more traditional animation (probably my favorite part of the film) is done very well and to great effect. The voice talent, led by the always charming and funny Jack Black, is also very good. Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Jackie Chan, Michael Clarke-Duncan, David Cross and Lucy Liu round out the rest of the all-star voice talent.

While I don’t believe this film will become a classic, it is none the less a fun family film that people of all ages can enjoy. I do think its a few steps backward from most of the recent computer animated films, such as “Shrek”, “Finding Nemo”, “The Incredibles” and “Wall-E.” However, if you simply want a fun animated film with a few good laughs, great action and very good animation, than this movie is certainly for you.

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