May 26, 2011
Watched the first showing of Kung Fu Panda 4 in local cinema yesterday with my kids. We were all very excited about it because we loved the first film very much because of the excellent animation, the snappy dialogues and above all, its heart.
However as the movie was starting, for the first few minutes, I was underwhelmed and even bored with the very slow pace of things. The story dealt with Po discovering that he was adopted by his goose father. This is no spoiler because we all obviously know it. We will eventually learn what happened to his parents and how he ended up in a box of radishes outside the noodle shop. From here to there though, the rest of story was very transparent. There was no thrill of discovery for me. The drama seemed forced. I wanted so much to like it, but there was something missing.
The voice acting of Jack Black is most distinct and identifiable. He gives Po a most lovable personality. The rest of the voice acting felt generic, such that those big name stars lending their voices were not really necessary. Yes, including Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman. Gary Oldman voices the main antagonist Lord Shen, a misguided peacock. While having a peacock as the vicious enemy was original, it was not executed too well, I felt.
On the more positive end, the artwork and animation was definitely still top-notch. The color and computer effects were astounding. The dialogs were similarly snappy. Too bad, the story was not substantial enough to satisfy me. As much as I liked the individual technical aspects, the product as a whole was ultimately unmemorable. The heart of the film was still there though, but by the time you feel it, you may have already been too disappointed to actually appreciate it.