Kung Fu Panda

Saw Kung Fu Panda. Better than I thought.

1. Very pretty opening sequence art style – ergonomical as set up & dream sequence explanation.

2. Very interesting cast – Jack Black managed to act as Po rather than Jack Black, an achievement.

3. Art and fighting styles overall were used well – themes of gold and blue, and wuxia craft five-finger-heart explosion.

4. Comedy & drama managed not to undermine each other overmuch. Unexpected moments, once or twice.

5. I like that the anthropomorphised animals that have thick necks in reality had thick necks here. Motions were mapped well.

6. Some scenes were just outstanding. A lot of Tai Lung stuff – the prison break, the bridge scene – was wonderfully conceived.

7. Voice actors overall – a lot of big stars who get relatively little talk time. It works to flesh out the five-man band well, making a magnificent seven of robin hoods, where it could have been distracting.

8. Musical themes work. Not as many pop tunes as I’d expect. Requisite ‘kung fu fighting’ with Jack Black vocals passable.

9. A couple of minutes approach a couple of seconds of Samurai Jack. Perhaps.

10.  Moral predictable but passable. The ‘there is no secret’ is cliched, but better than a magic sword. Po can’t beat everyone – he is simply the immovable object to Tai Lung’s unstoppable force (the tiger kung fu style having no defence). I wouldn’t mind an ‘after’ show of this.

Problems:

1. Po ‘figured out’ the Wushi finger-hold. It seemed random and pointless.

2. What happened to Tai Lung? Atomised? Imprisoned? Reconciled to Shifu after finally being stopped? He was a cool character – paralleled to the fury of Mistress Tigress and self-hero story of Po (‘Our battle shall be legendary!’) and he really just disappeared at the end.

3. The entire setup of the Four’s feelings of inadequancy towards Shifu went unresolved. Don’t need to be hit over the head with it, but a scene, a second, a glance would be nice.

4. The end titles featured stills drawn in the style of the opening – excellent – but it seemed clumsily plotted. A few funny parts – Monkey finding his cookies gone, Tigress doing a Shifu impression for Shifu, Po holding his own action figure, Po showing the Dragon scroll to all, Po training all, Po and the five on the edge of the demon valley – but these were gems in an apparent confusion of stock images – nothing like the still-storytelling of WALL-E end titles.

5. Last scene of the shoot growing good, but still – this was an ensemble piece, and seemed to forget it in the last few minutes. It has 88 minutes running time – 2 minutes of plot resolution would not a universe have destroyed.

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