The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: DreamWorks - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 88 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Voice talents: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Ian MacShane, Seth Rogan, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Michael Clarke Duncan
Directed by: John Stevenson & Mark Osborne
Music by: Hans Zimmer & John Powell
Written by: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 9, 2008
"Prepare for awesomeness….Skidoosh!"
Enthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po works in his family’s noodle shop while daydreaming about becoming a Kung Fu master. His dreams soon become reality when he is unexpectedly chosen to join the world of Kung Fu and study alongside his idols-the legendary fighters Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey-under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung is headed their way, and it’s up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu hero into reality? Po puts his heart and his girth into the task, and ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.
I think when the subject of Jack Black comes up folks are divided into two camps, either you like him or you don’t. There is usually no gray area in this regard. Personally I like Jack Black and when I saw that this film was being released this summer it interested me but unfortunately I didn’t catch it theatrically. I didn’t read anything about it going into this review but quite honestly had relatively high hopes seeing as it was coming from DreamWorks. I am happy to report that it easily met my expectations and was really lots of fun. The development of all of the characters wasn’t particularly in depth but the story provided enough background (especially in the case of the three central figures) to establish a clear bond with them. The actors who lent their voices to them were perfectly placed and I always enjoy trying to figure who they based upon vocal recognition. Po was an absolute perfect physical characterization of Jack Black if he were a Panda bear. In my opinion this really helped to meld the animated character with the actors attributes and made him seem more believable (not that he needed to be).
The story isn’t a complicated one and revolves around the search for the Dragon Warrior who is the only being capable of possessing the understanding the ancient secret scroll. There is an old kung fu master named Oogway who is the only one capable of identifying who is to become the Dragon Warrior. There are five kung fu fighters otherwise known as the Furious Five, who have trained for years under Oogway’s apprentice, Shifu, a kung fu master who has prepared them to potentially become the Dragon Warrior. Po has loved kung fu his whole life but works in his father’s noodle shop while dreaming of one day becoming a kung fu master. The fly in the ointment is a rather powerful and ill tempered former Shifu kung fu apprentice name Tai Lung, who was imprisoned for trying to take the secret scroll in order to become the Dragon Warrior. Oogway stopped him because he wasn’t the chosen one and he has been locked away for 20 years. Oogway has deemed that the time has come to chose who is to be the Dragon Warrior and the whole village turns out for the ceremony. Po arrives with his noodle wagon and after a series of accidental events is seen by Oogway who then identifies him as the chosen one. The story moves along and of course he begins his training under a very reluctant and skeptical Shifu. He is a misfit that is looked down upon by the Furious Five but achieves some level of acceptance. Shifu, Oogway, Po and the Furious Five have not heard the last of Tai Lung who feels betrayed and still wants to claim the secret scroll and become the Dragon Warrior. You will just have to see it for yourself to see how things turn out.
This a very entertaining and fun film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It doesn’t have the emotional and moving aspects of some other animated classic films but its charming and memorable nonetheless. I watched it with my son and we had a ball.
The rating is for sequences of martial arts action.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Kung Fu Panda comes to Blu-ray Disc from DreamWorks featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.
This is a reference quality presentation that has garnered the first perfect overall technical score that I have given. The video quality was nothing short of mesmerizing in its depiction of the film’s animated images. The video was exquisitely detailed with a luminous and sparkling clarity that was incredibly three dimensional. I couldn’t get over how much visual penetration and depth there was. It never left me wanting for fine degrees of subtle delineation and texture. The attention to detail in the construction of the animated characters physical features as well as objects within each frame was superb. During the opening sequence Po is serving bowls of noodles in his Dad’s restaurant. He is balancing several of the filled bowls on his arm as he walks around. The individual noodles within each bowl was sliding around in conjunction with his movements with realistic fluidity. The fur that covered Po, and Shifu had remarkable subtle nuance and degrees of separation. Blacks were rich, visually dynamic and noticeably gradational. The dark and shadowy labyrinths that made up the prison where Tai Lung was being held had excellent depth and appreciable variational stages. Colors were vivacious, vibrant and eye popping. They had a lustrous and supreme quality that was just beautiful in high definition.
The Dolby TrueHD surround mix was simply marvelous. This is an aggressive and complex sound design that truly benefited from the higher resolution that lossless audio offers. Dynamics were first rate as the elements contained within the soundtrack had definitive energetic potential. This played hand in hand with its superlative clarity and high level sonic detail. Bass impact was prodigious at times as it reached room shaking depths that resonated through the listening area. This was the case over the course of the film as deep bass frequencies regularly accentuated the onscreen action. The culmination of which occurred in Chapter 22 around the 1:15 mark. This sequence delivered a deep sub bass burst that easily reached into the mid to upper 20hz regions. The plethora of discrete and ambient based sounds contained in this busy soundtrack created a dazzling 360 degree sound field that truly stimulated the aural senses. Front and rear channels were seamlessly integrated with excellent proportional perspective and imaging. As you would expect dialogue was crystal clear with strong intonation and descriptive variance.
This presentation is truly demonstrative worthy in every regard as is looked and sounded sublime.
- Inside Kung Fu Panda:
- Filmmaker‘s commentary
- The animator‘s corner
- Trivia track
- (HD) Meet the cast
- (HD) Pushing the boundaries
- (HD) Conversation international: Help save Wild Pandas
- Po’s Power Play:
- Dragon Warrior Training Academy
- Dumpling shuffle
- (HD) Learn to draw
- The sounds and moves of Kung Fu Panda:
- (HD) Sound design
- (HD) “Kung Fu fighting“ music video by Cee-Lo
- (HD) Learn the panda dance
- (HD) Do you Kung Fu?
- Land of the Panda
- Mr. Ping’s noodle house
- (HD) How to use chop sticks
- (HD) Inside the Chinese Zodiac
- Animals of Kung Fu Panda
- What fighting style are you?
- (HD) DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox
- (HD) Trailers - Monster‘s vs. Aliens, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
- A day in the life: A Shaolin monk in training
- Po around the world - See how to “skidoosh“ in 12 different languages
Kung Fu Panda is a charming and fun movie that can be enjoyed by all. Conceptually it might not be original but its use of stimulating visuals and clever dialogue help to give it an air of freshness that is unmistakable. DreamWorks has debuted it on high definition Blu-ray Disc in a complete package that features spectacular audio/video quality and extensive bonus supplements that make it a must have for every serious collector. Highly recommended.
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