Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
Kung Fu Panda
Goofy Panda Po (Jack Black) is the biggest fan of Kung Fu and the Furious Five (Angelia Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Jackie Chan) and can't believe his luck when he is chosen as the Dragon Warrior, to train under the Five and their Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). But when the fierce, deadly Tai Lung (Ian McShane) breaks out of prison, it is up to Po to defeat him.
When Kung Fu Panda was released DreamWorks Animation were in an era of misses that had begun four years earlier with Shark Tale (2004) and had continued with films such as Madagascar (2005), Shrek the Third (2007) and Bee Movie (2007), the only hit in these four years being Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).
The film, however, was a break from the constant misses, meriting hit status. The film is a wonderful blend of Kung Fu film, computer animation, old school cartoon violence and simplistic, yet farcical comedy. The animation is all dazzling and bold, perfectly blending together many different colours, and also bringing a lot of careful attention to detail together, to capture the look of Ancient China perfectly. The carefully edited animation also results in the very eye-catching Kung Fu moves, with the character actions moving fluidly, and the animation creating some very effective camera angles to capture it, both in the fast and slow paced sequences.
The cartoon violence comes from the fact that Po is so clumsy and all of the painful mishaps he gets himself into, and it is actually very funny, farcical even, thanks to its wonderfully over-the-top and fast pace, interesting set-ups and the fact that it is slapstick at the end of the day. The comedy is there throughout, and much of it comes from Po being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as well as the simplistic typ of verbal comedy which comes from misunderstandings and the fact Po is written to be comically foolish. And with well written comical set-ups the screenplay is wonderfully amusing, and when I first saw it three years ago it was a very refreshing change from the terrible jokes in some previous DreamWorks animated features.
The characters are also wonderful thanks to an excellent voice cast. Black brings great energy and enthusiasm to the role of Po, making the goof Panda a very funny and enjoyable lead. McShane gives a deliciously cold and sadistic voice performance to Tai Lung; while Hoffman brings a great sense of wisdom to the role of Shifu. And as the Furious Five, Jolie, Liu, Rogen, Cross and Chan bring power and a great sense of strength.
With all these elements and more combined this is a wonderful animation and one of the strongest DreamWorks Animations to date.
Stars: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan.
Oscar nomination: Best Animated Feature (John Stevenson, Mark Osborne).