Guaranteed household hit right here. The kids will leave the cinema kung-fu chopping the air and pleading for a pet panda. Kung Fu Panda is affable, humorous, visually gorgeous and will charm the pants off many… despite relying on a heavily formulaic story.
Asides from the attention to detail and the pretty colour palette – making the most of a high mountain setting and a mystic haze – there are also some surreal moments that are visually inspired. The characters are lovingly brought to life with great, idiosyncratic movements and solid voice work from Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and especially Randall Duk Kim as the tortoise Kung Fu guru. The whole design and it’s gentle cadence is striking – quite simple, but quite elegant – making for a pleasant place to get lost in for 90 minutes.
It’s also free of the pop culture references and audience winking that is plaguing children’s animation. Pity though it couldn’t break the shackles of the sleepy, animated film formula story-wise. After a few scenes you can guess what will happen and you’ll guess right. Our hero reaches his greatest challenge and realises the key he needs is found in self-belief, just like Nemo, like Woody, like Flick, like Mr Incredible, like Sully, like Lightening McQueen, etc. It makes me sigh. Be that as it may, recommended.