12.14.2008

Kung Fu Panda : 5 of 5

Even though I try to see all animated features at the theater, I'm ashamed to say I let this one slip away, which is a shame since it turned out to be one of the best animated movies of the year! I'm sure everyone who saw the trailer knows that Kung Fu Panda is the story of Po the panda, who idolizes the Kung Fu masters called the Furious Five, and ends up being selected as the Dragon Warrior, even though the only thing that motivates his training is food! The story sounds like it's going to be full of slapstick, and while it certainly has some hilarious moments, it's surprisingly serious and subtle at times! Of course, the fighting scenes are incredibly clever and well animated (some of the best I've ever scene, and totally true to Kung Fu cinema style), but there are simple dialogue scenes where the combination of voice acting and amazing character animation just blew me away! Po and his teacher Shifu are real, flesh and blood characters, expressing complex emotions in a way that makes Kung Fu Panda easily the best animated movie to come along that wasn't created by Pixar! The Furious Five have some great fighting poses and look cool, but unfortunately I think they blew the budget getting star voice actors for such small roles (seriously, anyone could have read Angelina Jolie's lines with the same deadpan impact). I've already praised the animation (and this movie made some breakthroughs in fur/clothing contact methods), but I also have to mention the truly awesome opening sequence and ending credits in glorious 2D - the style is so amazing that I would love to see the entire movie done this way just for fun! I really wish there had been a few more emotion tugging scenes (I'm always looking for those), but overall Kung Fu Panda is a fantastic achievement in non-Pixar animated film!

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