Today I was lucky enough to attend an advanced screening of the upcoming Dreamworks film “Kung Fu Panda”. I went into the film trying to keep an open mind. Everything I had seen from the film made it look like a fun film, but I’ve been burned before. This film delivered and then some. It kept me involved and entertained from the opening sequence right through to the end credits (and there is a small bit of animation after the credits… stick around for it).
It’s hard to believe this is the same studio that released “Shark Tale” just a few short years ago. If you remember the promotions for that film, they really promoted the heck out of the all star voice cast. Angelina Jolie and Jack Black, two “Shark Tale” alum appear in this film, but this time the voices seem to fit the characters very well.
Don’t judge the film by its marketing.
The action sequences in the movie were exciting and fast paced. If you enjoyed “Samurai Jack”, then you will really enjoy this film. Many of the action sequences have you feeling out of breath and just blown away by the amount of raw energy exerted by the characters on screen. The poses, timing, and acting choices are all stellar. There are several times in the film where a single pose or facial expression will get a laugh. In my opinion, the animation crew on this movie has managed to out perform any of the other Dreamworks films to date. Animation fans will be wanting to frame by frame this movie.
The character design is marvelous. They really come alive, from their shape and surfaces to the voices and actions. I was impressed by the level of malleability of the characters, with a range of facial expressions and flexible poses not often seen in CG.
Everything from the sets to the props are great to look at, full of tiny details, but all in support of the aesthetic look of the film. The lighting made you feel like you were in peaceful Chinese valley, or a dark isolated prison cave, depending upon the sequence. After leaving the screening, I went directly to the book store and purchased the Art of Kung Fu Panda book.
I was really looking forward to this film, and I wasn’t disappointed. Each department in the Dreamworks pipeline plussed the work of the department before it, just as it should be with any great animated film. In my opinion, “Kung Fu Panda” is right up there with “The Incredibles”. For me, the worst part about today’s screening was the fact that I’ll now have to wait until June 6th to see it again.
Do not miss this film.
Four and a half Fredbots out of five.