Playing this weekend in the Sykes Theater will be Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda,” an animated story about a lazy panda who lucks into being the next “chosen one” and the only hope to save his homeland. The movie features the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, David Cross and Randall Duk Kim as a wise tortoise.Certainly, animated films tend to be a lot fun. “Kung Fu Panda” is exactly that. Jack Black voices the character of “Po,” the panda. Po is the laziest panda in the Valley of Peace. Po works for his father, who is a goose who sells noodles. Po doesn’t enjoy working for the family business because of his aspirations to learn the art of Kung Fu. Po is the biggest fan of Kung Fu, and the legendary Furious Five, in the Valley of Peace. One day, by sheer chance, he is chosen to be the next “Dragon Warrior” by the wise tortoise. Suddenly, Po is the Valley of Peace’s only hope to stop Tai Lung (McShane) and he finds himself training alongside his idols in the Furious Five under the guidance of Master Shifu (Hoffman). However, there’s a problem, no one believes in Po.
Like any Dreamworks movie, the animation is beautiful, it’s entertaining, and there’s a whole bunch of characters. One of the problems of this movie (which are not found in the “Shrek” movies or “Ice Age”), though, is that the characters are barely fleshed out. The Furious Five are basically like any professional athlete. Angelina Jolie’s Tigress is like Brett Favre. When Po emerges onto the scene like a young Aaron Rodgers, Tigress refuses to help Po out because she thinks she’s supposed to be the next Dragon Warrior.
However, the Furious Five do provide the majority of the entertainment. Mantis (Rogen) is there for comic relief and it’s fun to watch what little Mantis can do when he’s fighting. Monkey (Chan), Viper (Liu), and Crane (Cross) have their moments as well. Particularly, in a scene when Po is wandering through the Furious Five house. Additionally, there are fun training sequences involving the Five and Po.
One of the characters with a story is Master Shifu (Hoffman), the Yoda of the movie. Master Shifu used to mentor Tai Lung, the former Dragon Warrior, and thinks he failed Tai Lung.
He has no hope for Po nor interest in Po. However, as the movie progresses, the dynamic changes.
Panda has an array of terrific fight scenes. Particularly, Tai Lung’s escape from prison is something to witness, as well as the final fight of the movie.
The actors do an admirable job with voice-work. Black brings a lot of life to Po, delivering each one-liner with glee. Cross is an unsung presence in the movie. He brings a lot of fun to a character who is not given much in the script. Hoffman delivers his lines with a thoughtful, wounded reserve which evokes empathy. McShane is terrific as the villainous Tai Lung. Jolie, however, isn’t anything special as Tigress.
As a whole, though, the animation and style doesn’t save the clichés and one dimensional characters, but it is an animated children’s movie, so that can be forgiven.
There are good lessons for children in the film involving believing in yourself and doing what you love to do. It’s not the most original film released but it is worth your time and certainly worth the two dollars at Sykes.
Sykes Theater is located right outside of the bookstore on the first floor of Sykes Student Union. It will play Thursday through Sunday at 8p.m. There are two Midnight screenings on Thursday and Friday.
Chris Monigle is a fourth-year student majoring in literature. He can be reached at CM660983@wcupa.edu.