Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda ★★★½

There is no secret ingredient.

Inspired by Shang-Chi, another rewatch of a martial-arts film I've been wanting to do for awhile. Pretty darn good, not great, but thinking especially of the kids out there who only grow up wanting to watch Disney and Dreamworks animated movies for years, this and Mulan are truly excellent starting points to get the little ones into kung fu flicks. Almost fifteen years(?!) after its initial release, really blown away by how well the CGI in this holds up, at least with how fluid its character movements and action sequences are especially. There's this nice balance between cartoon squash and stretch and just genuinely well-done animated choreography and framing. I remember I think last year that there was a viral tweet calling the bridge sequence in this the best fight scene in film, and it was very appropriately clowned on and quote tweet dunked into oblivion, but that doesn't mean it's still not a well-done action sequence in a movie with a nice handful of those. Also really like the voice acting across the board, James Hong and Randall Duk Kim being especially delightful, Ian McShane going way harder than even he needed to, and Jack Black being just perfectly cast. (Those four being so good make up for what would otherwise be a criminal under-utilization of Jackie Chan. He may as well not even be here.) As is customary with films for the youth, among the crude humor and flashy visuals is a moral to take from it all, and it's a really cute one. On top of "no secret ingredient" serving as nice individual empowerment for anyone who doesn't like certain aspects about themselves, Oogway's often quoted on the internet saying "There are no accidents." is lovely. It's a mindset that's impossible to have all the time, but a valuable one to model yourself after at least from time to time. No one's perfect, mistakes can be made, but there is a purpose to everything, even if sometimes that purpose has to come from within. Inner peace can bring peace to us all. I don't think I'm never not on a kung fu kick, but especially right now, I'm getting the feeling that I don't really need to watch much else.

7.5/10

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