My Opinion right after watching movie
My opinion right after watching the movie is that it is one of DreamWork’s best. The characters are great, the story is near-perfect, the animation is flawless, and everything works about it. They took out the gimmicks and distractions, and stuck to the story and characters. This is the film that started their good age again and to some “topped Pixar” -_-……… Okay then.
Production for this movie started in October 2004 and was originally going to be a spoof on martial arts movies, but director John Stevenson did not like that idea and moved away from the pop-culture references and focused more on good comedy and to get the kung-fu like vibe. The movie was inspired by the movie Kung Fu Hustle.
The crew that worked on this film spent a lot of time researching for the film (which has not been done in a LONG WHILE). They researched Chinese paintings and sculptures, took kung-fu classes, studied a bunch of kung-fu movies, and a bunch of other things.
Apparently the animation for this film was harder to complete and more complex than anything DreamWorks has animated. They had to develop a bunch of new programs so they can animate both clothes and fur (which are animation toughies) together. Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) tells Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) that Tai Lung (Ian McShane) has escaped and is heading their way because he was denied the scroll of Kung Fu.
So the story starts with Po (Jack Black) imagining to be a kung-fu warrior with the Furious Five. He is unsatisfied with his life and helping his goose father (they hint at how this came to be at the end of this movie but reveal it in the next one) running the noodle shop.
Po goes to the event where Oogway chooses the Dragon Warrior without many obstacles, but after accidentally landing in front of Oogway, he is chosen as the Dragon warrior, shocking everyone including himself.
Shifu is pissed about this and wants Po to leave and quit, so they start training so he will think it is too hard, but Po is only more intrigued and determined because he likes getting beat the fuck up I guess.
In the evening, Oogway gives him a pep talk after he is snubbed by everyone at their sleeping chambers and how he uses food to deal with his emotions and issues. See, small details about characters make them more interesting and add depth to them. It would be nice if the company did this with their characters more often. While this is happening, Tai Lung makes a fucking badass escape and the bird who Shifu sent over there returned to tell him that Tai Lung has officially escaped.
Another day comes and goes as Po sucks at training. In the evening, they are back at their chambers and Viper (Lucy Liu) and Mantis (Seth Rogen) are doing acupuncture on him. There are a bunch if celebrities that I know here, but they are not even recognizable here. That is so rare to find in animated films today. Tigress (Angelina Jolie) tells Po the story of Tai Lung and says how this is really important, which is why he needs to leave. Shifu just found out that Tai Lung is on his way and rushes to Oogway about the Panda and the urgency of the matter. Oogway gives him a pep talk before his death.
The crew eats Po’s noodles and have a great time (this scene is filler, but it shows them getting along which is somewhat important) and he starts to imitate Shifu, but he walks in and tells them the news about Tai Lung.
The next morning, Shifu finds Po binge on the food and realized that he can do the impossible for what he normally can with the thought of food in his mind, which is how he got so high to reach the cookies. He uses a dumpling to train him and now he is a badass Dragon Warrior. This is all nice, but this is the only issue I have with it.
The Furious Five go to defeat Tai Lung before he arrives, but he whoops all of their asses. Po is suddenly ready to get the scroll, which is an empty scroll, meaning there is on secret ingredient for being the best in Kung Fu, it is just you, and that is a great message.
The town is told to pack and to go somewhere else and his father Mr. Ping (James Hong) is about to tell him that
he is not his biological father something important, but they are interrupted when Lung shows up to whoop some ass.
Lung is mad that Shifu turned on him and almost kills him. Po comes to save the day and eventually kills Lung with some classic DreamWorks comedy in the middle of it.
Everyone bows to him in respect, and he remembers to check on Shifu who is just relaxing on the floor and Po keeps on ruining the vibe, and they just decide to go eat.
The characters in this film are all enjoyable and likeable, but some are very generic and one-dimensional, while Po and Shifu are very developed. Still better than a lot of characters in the canon of DreamWorks.
I think I have hinted that it is perfect, so….. yeah.
The soundtrack was done by Hans Zimmer and John Powell, and they did a great job on it. There are no pop songs that are mere distractions, and there are not really any songs in general. It is just the powerful, chinese score that gives off the vibe of the movie.
Reception at Release
When this film was released on June 6th, 2008, It was a huge success for the studio, all around. It topped the box office on its first week and made more than what the analysts thought, though it dropped to second in the following week behind The Incredible Hulk. It was very successful in China and is the first animated film to make more than 100 Yuan in China. It closed on October 9, 2008 , grossing $215,434,591 domestically and $416,309,969 overseas for a worldwide total of $631,744,560. It is currently the highest-grossing non-sequel DreamWorks film to date.
Critically, it did very well and the first film since Shrek 2 to be praised. Critics and audiences loved it for its action, lack of pop-culture references, heart, great everything. Some even deemed it as an automatic classic, and it is. According to a lot, this film started DreamWork’s Golden age where their films actually became good and according to some, beat Pixar and Disney (laughs). Alright……
When it comes to awards, it was nominated for A LOT. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, 6 Annies, 1 Golden Globe, 1 Golden Reel, a Teen’s Choice, and a bunch of others, and was nominated instead of won because WALL-E beat it. That is not the case for the Annies, as it was tied with Wallace and Gromit, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Incredibles for the most nominations, and it SWEPT ALMOST ALL OF THE AWARDS from WALL-E, leaving everyone like this
Today, it is seen as a DreamWorks Classic, the film that got people liking DreamWorks again, and it is seen as one of the best films DreamWorks has put out. It garnered 2 sequels Kung Fu Panda 2, and one that is currently in development and being prepared for release in 2015. It also has a spin-off series called Kung Fu Panda: Legend of Awesomeness that started on September 19th, 2013 and currently airing their 3rd season.
Story = 8/10
Characters = 7.5/10
Music = 9/10
Animation = 10/10
16 thoughts on “DreamWorks Review: Kung Fu Panda”
The best Dreamworks Animation film at the time and one of my favorites!
I have to say, this is my favourite too, and while I like HTTYD, it gets way too much credit for revamping DreanWorks.
Well, I didn’t say that this is my favorite, but it’s ONE of my favorites! My favorite Dreamworks Animation film is yet to come across your blog.
I have a good feeling that I know which one is your favourite one, and it is a common one…
So it really is good? (Yes, I haven’t seen it…I gave up on DreamWorks a looooong time ago and the premise sounds so cliché and stupid…and just because everyone says it is good, I wonder if it is really good or just unexpected good for DreamWorks).
It is better than Shrek and yes, it is more than a gimmick (very rare). There are little to no pop-culture references, characters are likeable and actually characters, and the plot is good except for Po getting good in a half hour. I highly doubt it would be one you specifically would consider a favourite.
Oh, that’s okay, not everything has to be a favourite. I put it on my list.
I actually think DreamWorks has topped Pixar and Disney with Kung Fu Panda 2.
But that’s their only film which is better than Pixar and Disney.
Here’s my Top 5 Animated Films:
1. Kung Fu Panda 2
3. Toy Story 3
4. Cars 2
5. The Black Cauldron