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Friday, March 21, 2008

here's a great article from aint it cool news on kung fu panda

Miscweant Wants You To See KUNG-FU PANDA!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

And I’ve gotta tell you... I’m sold.

The new trailer for this movie showed up at my house today on DVD, and it’s great. Based on how many times a day Toshi wants to watch the original trailer for this film, I’d say this is the second most-anticipated film in my house at the moment. My son’s 2 ½ now, and he does his best to say “Kung Fu Panda” every time he sees the trailer. The fact that half the time it comes out “Fuck You Panda” is just icing on the cake. My wife’s reaction is solid freakin’ gold.

I’ve been hearing from filmmakers who have nothing to do with this movie since last year that something special was going on with it. This is starting to shape up as one of those special little animated movies that sort of blindsides everyone, like IRON GIANT or LILO & STITCH, something with real personality and character, something that stands out.

One friend of mine called this “a gateway drug into Shaw Brothers movies for kids.” Sounds freakin’ awesome.

Our spy today took a look at a chunk of footage from the film, something I’m hoping to do myself very soon. When I do, I’ll be sure to let you know what I think. For now, Miscweant’s got me excited:

Harry -
My first reaction to Kung Fu Panda was (bored, Droopy voice), whoopee, here we go again: hopeless slob (Jack Black, who else?) makes good in spite of himself, done with that trademark DreamWorks unattractive angular character design.

Mea culpa, friends. I just saw a lengthy promo reel for the film hosted by Ol’ Bullet-head himself, Jeffrey (nyah-nyah Michael, I’m still a player, what are you doing these days?) Katzenberg – and I am blown away. This is going to turn into an Anton Ego review (end of Ratatouille Anton that is), but here we go.
This is the most gorgeous cgi film I’ve seen to date in terms of the world it’s created for itself, surpassing Pixar’s best. There are some backgrounds so otherworldly they look as if they came out of a sci-fi film, while at the same time obviously inspired by Chinese landscape art.
But (as someone once said) you don’t leave a movie humming the scenery. Turns out KFP’s characters are quite pleasing to the eye – nowhere as angular as I first thought – and have more than a bit of emotional depth as well. First off, JBlack’s panda Po isn’t a deluded fool who believes himself a kung-fu master, he’s Kung-fu Guy: a fanboy who knows the intricacies of the art; he might fantasize being a master –

(SPOILER: in what looks to be a way cool opening sequence done in 2D to distinguish it from the rest of the movie – another straw in the wind re the return of 2D)

– but he’s totally aware of his lack of talent to actually participate. It’s a bit of self-awareness that instantly made me twice as sympathetic towards him. The characters were a beautiful blend of human and animal features, as furry – excuse me, ‘anthropomorphic’ characters should be. (Although there’s not much you can do to anthropomorphize a mantis). Dustin Hoffman’s red panda Shifu and Ian McShane’s snow leopard villain Tai Lung blend personality and species perfectly. (And Tigress Angelina Jolie’s ever-so-subtly glowing eyes – way cool…) Tai Lung transcends his stock-villain role via a brief moment of vulnerability and regret, while Shifu and Po enjoy character arcs that take them away from stock-character status as well. (Typecast Jackie Chan as Monkey didn’t have much to say in the promo reel).

The kung-fu battles are incredibly high-energy and amazingly choreographed – and in the cartoon world, the physically impossible feats are far more believable than they could ever seem in a live-action film. (As long as you can accept a universe of upright, clothes-wearing talking animals that is; then again if you can’t you have no business going to see this movie in the first place.)

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