Kung Fu Panda (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Animation / Comedy / Family
DreamWorks Animation || PG - 88 minutes - $39.99 || November 8, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-11-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Writer(s): Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris (story), Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger (screenplay)
Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu


Theatrical Release Date: June 6, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Commentary with Filmmakers
  • The Animators Corner (BD Exclusive)
  • Trivia Track
  • 14 Featurettes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

I'll say it - I didn't love the film. After all the positive press the film received and numerous individuals telling me how funny the film was I just wasn't moved by it. It was cute, and had a decent, yet predictable plot, but there was not enough to keep my entertained for the short 88 minute run time. Even with the impressive cast talent I just wasn't feeling it. It's certainly a great film for kids (as my score reflects that) but was missing the slight edge of humor for adults.

Kung Fu Panda tells the tale of Po (Jack Black) - a panda who works for his dad at his noodle shop - and dreams of something more. His father sees him taking over the long family business while Po considers other options. One day, Master Oogway announces he will be choosing the new Dragon Warrior to defend the city against the evil, yet currently in jail, Tai Lung (Ian McShane). Po desperately wants to attend but his father simply wants him to peddle his Noodles to the townsí folk. Everyone in town believes Oogway will pick one of the Furious Five - a mix of different animals all with unique abilities to take on this great honor. Eventually Po makes a grand entrance (via a chair hooked up with fireworks) and Oogway picks him over the Furious Five. This pick infuriates Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman - excellent choice!) who thinks one of the Furious Five should have been picked instead.

The next day Po and the rest of the Furious Five get into several training exercises where we are lead to believe Po is just a fat bumbling idiot. He can't fly, can't kick, and certainly is not very agile. Yet after the Five leave to meet Tai Lung before he reaches town, Master Shifu finds out what Po's true talents are and begins using them to train him in the art of, you got it, Kung Fu.

Now, even though I didn't think the movie was as good as DreamWorks last venture, Bee Movie, itís still an entertaining romp. The story is incredibly predictable yet still has a great feel to it that kids and adults will both enjoy. Unlike Bee Movie - and even the Shrek Trilogy - there is very little here that an adult can fully get into past the acting talent. Both Bee Movie and Shrek had several scenes that were more adult oriented where we got the joke, while the kids did not (making fun of Lord Farquaad's "size" can be interpreted in two different ways...). Does it automatically make the film poor? Absolutely not. While I do not have any children I could see myself enjoying the film with them if the movie was on.

The big plus about the film is the acting talent. While the other animated DreamWorks films had a few big names (Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Seinfeld to name a few), Kung Fu Panda goes all out. Not only do we get Jack Black who I've been fond of for years in films, but also Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen and David Cross. Black typically plays the same type of character over and over in each film he does (fat, supposed-to-be annoying character) he changes things up a bit here and is instead a lovable fat panda bear who has dreams of the future and desperately seeks a new life for himself.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

BD-Live (Profile 2.0 Players only)
- Po Around the World - When downloaded you get to hear a certain scene in various languages... ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Inside Kung Fu Panda:
- Commentary with Filmmakers
- The Animators Corner (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Trivia Track (Profile 1.1/2.0) (Blu-ray Exclusive)

- - Probably the only features on the disc that adults can actually enjoy is a fairly informative commentary followed up with a trivia track and a PiP track (that runs with the commentary) that includes clips and storyboards from the film.

- Meet the Cast (HD)
- Pushing the Boundaries (HD)
- Held Save Wild Panda's (HD)

- - A pretty lame set of features right off the bat which sets the tone for most of the other Special Features. A short but sweet "interview" session followed up by some animation talk and closes with a short clip of Jack Black talking to us about saving Panda's.

Po's Power Play:
- Dragon Warrior Training Academy
- Dumpling Shuffle
- Learn to Draw (HD)

- - Tapping even more into kids using the features on the disc we get a short look at how some of the characters are drawn and two fairly lame games.

Sounds:
- Sound Design (HD)
- Learn the Panda Dance (HD)
- Music Video (HD)
- Do you Kung Fu? (HD)

- - ...and it continues with more kid-friendly special features. Sound Design is the highlight here which provides a fairly short (yet the best feature in this set) looks at how some of the sound was used followed up with a feature to show young kids how to do the Panda dance. But that's not all... we get to sit through a music video and then a rather long look at Kung Fu.

Land of the Panda:
- Mr. Pings Noodle House
- How to Use Chopsticks (HD)
- Inside the Chinese Zodiac (HD)
- Animals of...
- What Fighting Style are You?

- - To close the Special Features we get even more kid-friendly features. Mr Pings is by far my favorite feature on the disc where Alton Brown (from Food Network) shows us how noodles are made (which admittedly is pretty interesting). That is followed up with a short look at how to use chopsticks properly, some information on the Chinese Zodiac symbols and two other very lame features.

Also included is the DreamWorks Jukebox.

I know this film is for kids... but did we really need so many useless kid features? With a fairly all-star cast I was expecting a bit more especially with Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Jackie Chan. That brings me on to my biggest beef....the Blu-ray does not include the "Furious Five" shorts that the DVD set does. While they only run about 24 minutes in total it still a shame that this could not be fit on the disc. Hopefully it will be on BD-Live sometime in the future.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Kung Fu Panda is presented in 2.35:1 on a 50GB Disc. Simply put this is one of the best looking discs I have ever seen. Not only does it top my previous favorite, Bee Movie, but it far exceeds it. You can see literally everything in this film. It was hard to even pay attention to the film when I was noticing tiny little details like the rings in a cut vegetable or the glare from the knife.

DreamWorks has included an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, French and Portuguese. While not as nice as the Picture Quality I still felt the TrueHD track was a step up from some previous ones I've heard in the animation category.



.::OVERALL::.

For a kidís movie, Kung Fu Panda is great. It hits all the right buttons and is sure to be played over and over again in your Blu-ray player. While I do not think it is as good as Bee Movie (which is one of my favorite animated DreamWorks releases) itís still an enjoyable film that is worth a rental if not a purchase. The Blu-ray boasts one of best transfers I have ever seen on Blu-ray and a rocking TrueHD track. Special features are more kid oriented... but that's not a bad thing.