Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Po (voiced by Jack Black), a clumsy panda and the son of a noodle vendor, dreams of becoming a great kung fu fighter and meeting “The Ferocious Furious Five”. This team of kung fu masters is comprised of Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen), Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu), Crane (voiced by David Cross) and is led by their master, Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman). Ultimately, his dream is realized when, by default, he is designated the “Dragon Warrior” in a competition over the more skilled competitors in the field. And so he sets out on an adventure of self discovery that leads him to face off against the evil snow leopard Tai Lung (voiced by Ian McShane).

As you are aware, Kung Fu Panda is an animated film which boasts some of the best animation I’ve seen to date. The lighting glimmered as the sun moved across the day. I could almost feel the textures on my fingers. There are hysterical stop motion sequences that shamelessly draw the attention of the audience right into the story. Dan Wagner, the head of character animation, earned every penny he was paid as the head character animator because the characters literally sparkled with life. My one exception would be that Tigress often comes off flat. All in all, my eyes were remarkably satisfied by the exceptionally beautiful animation.

The dialogue was equally pleasurable. While there are a few one line jokes in Kung Fu Panda that come across my taste buds as sour apples, most of the script is bright and appealing. Silly, memorable, and entertaining verbal parlays will make even the most serious in the audience chuckle out loud. The plot takes every opportunity to sprinkle delightful spices of sweetness and sincerity. The characters were a bit shallow but considering the age of the target audience, the slightly less complex character development is appropriate. Don’t be afraid though, the shoal nature of the plot doesn’t detract for adults. It is a nourishing respite from any case of the doldrums and hum-bugs.

I was also utterly surprised by the quality of the voice acting in this feature. While none of the scenes are emotionally challenging, they are comedically challenging. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman and Ian McShane each give such high-octane energy to their characters, it made the entire movie a delightful story, easy to get lost in, and sure to rise your serotonin and dopamine levels.

I should point out that I find it important to watch and listen to children as they watch a movie targeted for them – I’m not young enough to truly judge how good it is for a little one. The youngsters responded in awe because Kung Fu Panda combines two things kids love, adorable animals and high jumping, fist flying, round house kicking martial arts. As I scanned the audience, I saw seas of little smiling faces leaning forward, completely enraptured but more surprising was the look on the bigger faces. Even the unaccompanied grown-ups looked like they wanted to cuddle the characters but hesitate out of fear of their martial arts skills.

I think the most sociologically exposing movies a society creates are ones made for kids. They always show the basest values of a society. The message conveyed in Kung Fu Panda is one I love; “You’re good enough.” Couple that with two butt kicking girls, Tigress and Viper, who don’t show their boobs or have ridiculously narrow waists and are treated just as equals to their male counterparts, I am so happy about what this movie says about us. I would suggest this movie only for those who enjoy lovely visuals punctuated with laughter (which I suspect is roughly 90% of the population).

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
5 Star Rating: Fantastic


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'Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda (2008)' have 16 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 6, 2008 @ 5:44 pm Martin Brue

    Look out Pixar!

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 7, 2008 @ 4:17 am Stan-Lee

    “I think the most sociologically exposing movies a society creates are ones made for kids.”

    Of course they are! Just look at the old looney tunes and merry melodies They have always been a way for adults to express themselves to the masses without actually “going there.”

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 8, 2008 @ 11:01 am Jerome

    One mistake in your review, I think Tigress, Mantis, Monkey, Crane and Viper made up the “Furious Five” not the “Ferocious Five”.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 9, 2008 @ 12:28 pm Phntmbanana

    I really like this one I was pleasantly surprised that Dreamworks made a movie that appealed to a greater audience with some of the best visuals I have ever seen in a movie. Nice review I was just gonna do it but you reviewed it before I saw it :)

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 9, 2008 @ 7:48 pm Tracy

    I am so excited about this movie I am going to kidnap my nephew just so I can have an excuse to see this for myself.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 10, 2008 @ 5:47 pm Rose

    I have to agree, casting was great. Who says art doesn’t imitate life??? Jack Black is the perfect fit for a lazy, fat panda who dreams of grandeur. :D

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      June 14, 2008 @ 10:41 pm General Disdain

      @ Rose

      Agreed. I said the same thing with the casting of Patton Oswalt as the rat Remy in Ratatouille.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 17, 2008 @ 6:46 pm Ojay

    I totally agree. See Kung Fu Panda! Jack Black is hilarious, as usual. And Pixar has done a fine job once again. Seriously, you will be laughing throughout the entire length of Kung Fu Panda.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 14, 2008 @ 7:34 pm patrick

    still gotta see Kung Fu Panda… Jack Black is classic for sure; he’ll be forever famous for his work in School of Rock

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 17, 2009 @ 6:26 am kingston dent

    I liked the movie especially the characterisation, graphics, great music and sound effects. Its worth watching it anytime.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 28, 2009 @ 12:59 am Preston Dentist

    Quality animated movie nice to watch every time. Special characters, sound effects marked it more live.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 25, 2009 @ 3:05 am Wakefield

    Its really a great movie to enjoy with friends or family members. I love to watch it every time.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 10, 2009 @ 3:30 pm Richmond Hill

    This is a great movie for all ages, not just children. I laughed my head off.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 17, 2009 @ 6:36 am Bryn Thomas

    I thought it was hilarious too, though I only watched it 5 months after it arrived! Initially I thought it’d be one of those boring little cartoons , but I couldnt stop laughing! great movie!

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 28, 2009 @ 5:53 am Angelo Thorton

    Agreed, a very good movie! I watched it about 10 times now, with my little sisters wanting to watch it over and over again of course ! Its been quite sometime since its been out, and if you haven’t watched it yet, well what are you waiting for?

  15. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 11, 2010 @ 11:29 am Joe

    I love this movie! it some how manages to put me in a good mood, that panda is just way too cute! amazing animations too!

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