(Review originally written at 10 December 2008)

It's funny. This is actually a very simple and also very formulaic animated movie but yet its better and also more enjoyable than the average one.

Even though I like the Shrek movies, I also think that they are being overrated and this is perhaps the reason why I didn't watched "Kung Fu Panda" any sooner, since it also, like the Shrek movies, got made by DreamWorks Animation and also since I also wasn't too fond of their other animated hit "Madagascar". I must say that "Kung Fu Panda" is simply a very different movie and its good to see that DreamWorks Animation also try out some new things, despite the already huge success of the Shrek movies.

Of course the movie is different with its characters but also definitely with its style and humor as well. I have the feeling this movie was made more to entertain and less to impress. The movie is basically made entertaining for all age categories. There is some slapstick humor for the children and some more subtle humor to enjoy for the adults. The comedy is mostly driven by the movie its characters and the voices behind them. The movie is often more funny in the way the lines are being delivered than by its actual written dialog.

The movie is filled with some highly unlikely characters. Of course the premise itself alone already is of course an unlikely one; a panda who loves Kung Fu fighting. Besides that, there is a Kung Fu snake and even a Kung Fu locust, while the rest of the town seems to be inhabited by only bunnies and pigs. It are more small little things like this that makes "Kung Fu Panda" a real pleasure- and hilarious movie to watch.

It's also a really stylish movie, not just in terms of its looks but also in the way it handles its action. The Kung Fu sequences really feel like Kung Fu fight sequences, although it of course goes over-the-top with it. It provides the movie with some nicely choreographed fight sequences, that are being shot with lots of style. The movie also features the most hilarious slow-motion sequences since the original Pink Panther movies, with Peter Sellers.

The movie really benefits from it that its main voice is being provided by Jack Black. He really carries the movie in a great way. No wonder his name is so big on the cover, despite the fact that the movie its other voices are being provided by some much 'bigger' names. It also are some unlikely names perhaps. Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan for instance are not actors who are known for their voice-work and are perhaps also a bit too 'big' normally for jobs like this. You can also wonder though why some actors were picked for this movie. Yeah sure, it's nice that the movie has Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu involved but you can also wonder why, fore they actually add very little to the movie. Most of them also have a quite small role within the movie and Jackie Chan for instance recorded all of his voice-work for the movie in just a couple of hours, on just one day.

The story is kept very simple and too be honest, it's also very predictable. The movie really doesn't offer any surprises story-wise and it's a real formulaic one. Of course it also features some messages in it, like basically every animated movie feels the urge to do. Yet the movie works out so fine and entertaining. Hard to say why, the movie really shouldn't work as the way it does. Maybe because it doesn't take itself serious at all and it doesn't pretend to be more than it is. It knows it should purely entertain and not as much impress with clever written side-plots or stunning looking animated sequences. The movie is made as pure entertainment and as entertainment the movie simply does not fall short.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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