Kung Fu Panda
Date : 2008
Rated : PG
This computer animated family film by the DreamWork studio packs a punch! :groan: Po the Panda dreams of being a Kung Fu master, but as the overweight son of a noodle chef, he is unlikely to ever accomplish this. However, his luck changes when he is selected as the next Dragon Master who will defend the Valley of Peace from a great danger. Will he be able to learn the martial arts secrets in time?
I only rated this three out of five stars because it had too much violence for it’s rating and it’s storyline was overly silly.
The artwork was gorgeous, and it had some good lessons. I really liked the scenes with the peach tree and the blossoms drifting in the wind. Some of the voice actors did a great job, especially the ones who were not instantly identifiable. I did not like Jack Black as Po; he was too identifiable as the actor for me to ever believe in him as a character. The martial art was exciting and full of action.
Although the movie was rated PG for parental guidance, I did not expect such a high level of violence in the film. Perhaps it was not just the violence, but the focused ferocity of the villain and the corresponding defense by the heroes. It was unsettling to see hand to hand combat to the death in a cartoon. It recalled older cartoons from the 40s and 50s that excelled in bloodless violence, but with an added element of malevolence.
Despite the serious fighting going on, the story had a silliness to it that didn’t seem to fit. For example, the Kung Fu master Shifu used food as a method to compel Po to greatness. It was clever, but seemed out of place when intercut with scenes of his fellow fighters trying to stop the villain.
Finally, many jokes were made about Po and his weight. No one stopped them or questioned why he was so big. I don’t think every movie needs to be politically correct or nice. However, since this movie was intended for children maybe more care could have been taken. After all, this movie had so much more going for it; I wish the writers had reached for other jokes than the easy “fat” jokes.
I would recommend this movie to adults and children who enjoy animated movies and learning about other cultures. (The DVD extras were really nice. I especially liked learning about making noodles the Chinese way.)