(2008) dir. Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
viewed: 06/07/08 at AMC Loews Metreon 16 with IMAX, SF, CA
Kung Fu Panda, the kids have been excited about it for a while, maybe simply because of the kung fu or maybe because the name is easy to remember or maybe because there’s been an utter dearth of kid-friendly fare of late being released in the cinemas. Any which way, I was glad to tote them down there and get excited to see the film.
By no stretch of the imagination is this film a great one. It’s entertaining, just enough to hover above the mediocre mark. The best thing about the film is the aesthetics and execution of the animation. You see so many of these animated films (or at least I do) and you start to get accustomed to the styles and qualities that you kind of forget how amazing and rich some of this design and aesthetic really is. But Kung Fu Panda, indeed, has some rich visual texture, good character animation, and details that feel from a wholly “design” point of view, something definitely above the crowd.
But design and aesthetics do not make a movie. At least feature animation has evolved away from the (non)requisite musical approach that beleagured the feature animation of the 20th century, modeled on the Disney approach. But narratively, it’s no great shakes, not terrible, just uninspired. A review I read of this film said that “the title says it all”. It’s all you need to know, really.
As for kid-friendliness, my son totally loved it. My daughter was not so hot on the fight sequences, which were stylish and nicely executed, but not uber kid-friendly if you’re steering your kids away from violence. Then again, what do you expect from Kung Fu Panda? Yoga?