Sound Off: Kung Fu Panda - What Did You Think?
by Alex Billington
June 6, 2008
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? We've hit the time of the year where the big studios all debut their family features. From DreamWorks this year it's Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda, an animated adventure about an unlikely hero. Thankfully they've finished up with the Shrek series and have moved on to something new. Like every year with the big animated features, there's always a lot of speculation. Has DreamWorks finally found the right mix of ingredients? How awesome were the kung fu fight scenes? Was Jack Black too much? Is this another DreamWorks failure that lacks any style or subsistence? Or was this the first great feature film to hit theaters this year? Sound off with your thoughts below!
To fuel the fire, I will definitely say I loved Kung Fu Panda! I don't know how anyone could go in and watch this and not be thoroughly entertained by every last minute of it. Jack Black was perfect, the comedy was great, and the fight scenes were incredible! Ken nailed it with his review and I completely agree with him on all aspects. This really was one of the most fun and entertaining films I've seen all year. I can't really compare it to Indiana Jones or Iron Man, because those movies are on such different levels, but it's the closest DreamWorks has ever come to achieving Pixar brilliance. I used to hate DreamWorks, but with Kung Fu Panda they've finally made their first phenomenal film.
What did you think of Kung Fu Panda? The best DreamWorks animated movie yet?
have not seen it yet, but can not wait
sean on Jun 6, 2008
I thought it was stupendous! Jack Black kept the energy down and made the movie so much more enjoyable than his usual manic self. I anticipate that it will do really well in the box office because of how its appeal seems so wide. The graphics were outstanding to view, although they weren't photorealistic, they were beautiful in their own right, the colors vibrant, the textures vivid, and the animations smooth as butter. Another great piece was the sound, which was sharp and befitted every motion on screen from Po's gut jiggling to punches and kicks everything sounded just right not too real , but not too cartoony as well. The one thing I would have liked to have seen more of was the "Furious Five" who did not really get much talking time. The movie also brings forth a wide range of emotions such as sadness when Po lies to his father about his dream and humor when Po and Shifu tangle over the dumpling; it was the movies ability to intertwine the all the emotions that increased its greatness to the point were I was feeling for all the characters and not just Po. For me this movie gave me everything I wanted and more. A definite three and half stars.
David on Jun 6, 2008
Saw this friday morning, first showing actually. It was great. Loved everything, and jack;s voice was perfect for the panda. Action Scenes were actually really detailed, as was the characters hair and lighting.
bstuder on Jun 6, 2008
Dan Harmon, one of the writers (with Rob Schrab): I'm sure nothing Rob and I contributed ended up in there. We wrote a bunch of scenes they kept not using because we were changing too much. My hats off to anyone that can write a Dreamworks Animation film. They have a unique process. First they storyboard the entire film. That is the first step. Not kidding. No writers, no script, just a story, and an entire film drawn on pieces of paper. Then Katzenberg watches an animatic of the boards and says, surprisingly, "this needs a lot of work. You have a month." Then they hire their first writer. And spend that month changing as much of the storyboards as they can, which is about 20 to 30 percent. If the 30 percent change isn't the right kind of change, people get fired. Maybe the director, maybe the writer, maybe both. Sometimes, only the writer gets fired and an additional director is hired to help out. It all depends on who is better - at pointing a finger with one hand while covering their own ass with the other. I came in about four writers into the process. It's kind of hard to write a "better" scene than the last writer when the rules are that you can only change 30 percent of each scene or completely change 30 percent of the scenes, per Katzenberg screening. So, for instance, in this scene, the panda comes up a flight of stairs carrying a bucket of water, slips on a banana peel, says something to two geese and does an air guitar. The good news? There can be anything in the bucket. Your mission: make the movie better. It's harder than it sounds. Especially when the larger "bucket" that the movie is contained in cannot change: the fact that the story has to be about a panda who is informed he is the chosen one, destined to ...beat up... a guy who has escaped from prison and who is spending the entire movie walking to town, in order to...try to beat him up, because that's the prophecy. And I won't spoil the movie, but the bad guy doesn't win. Because he's not destined to. But just to make sure he doesn't win, and because there's 70 minutes of time to kill before he gets there on foot, the panda is trained in the martial arts. it's kind of like Karate Kid, but if Mister Miyogi had long ago banished the Kobras and was running the karate tournament. That resonates, right? We've all been in that situation. Oh, yeah, but we weren't the "panda." We were the "bad" guys, walking from Nazareth to Jerusalem, hoping to help people, only to get nailed to a fucking cross by the "good" guys. For instance, I had this job once at Dreamworks Animation... I tried to divide my time there between the tasks of writing 30 percent of scenes, being hazed by storyboard artists because I didn't know how to do 30 percent of my job, yet, and explaining to the producers that Messianic myths (like The Matrix, which seemed to have a slight impact on their story) usually resonate because in the beginning of the story, things are bad, not good, and the good guy is usually the one overcoming insurmoutable odds and attempting to reclaim something from systems that have the magical ability to beat the living shit out of them no mater what they do. I said, could we please dedicate this month's 30 percent change to making the bad guy be the ruler of the town, and the prophecy is that this panda is supposed to dethrone him. Well, the prison scene is already drawn. And Jeffrey really likes it. All right, can we make it like Demolition Man or Austin Powers or Cat Ballou, have the bad guy break out and everyone's panicking and they go and get the guy that according to legend is the biggest bad ass, but he's out of shape, out of his element and kind of a dick. Hmmm, okay, but in that case, why is he coming up a flight of stairs, and what's in the bucket? I don't know. There's food in the bucket, because he loves food so much, and ...he keeps his food in the basement, and he's coming up to answer the door because the stork is knocking at it and beseeching him to be a hero. Well, the stork never knocks on a door, though. And Jeffrey likes the stork not knocking on doors. So we quit. Actually, I believe we were fired. They do this cycle like 30 times and the end result is a movie created over three years by 7 terrified directors and 20 pissed off writers, none of whom get any back end because it's an "animated" film, therefore no matter how bad it is, it turns like an 8,000 percent profit, and they make another one and another one and another one until Katzenberg is finally dead at the age of 117 because he uses all the money he saves to rejuvinate his body with the blood of poor people who die at the age of 50 because their hearts got clogged while eating Lion King Meals. Which, honestly, sounds like the beginning of a great story. If someone would come along and blow up the whole god damn building and then piss on the rubble. Unfortunately, it's real life, and the rich guy is writing the story, so the stories are about rich people beating the shit out of everyone who wants the building blown up. Which, Katzenberg assured me, is a story that's been told from the beginning of time. And he told me I should get this book by Ted Kopell and Joseph Campbell called Hero of a Thousand Journeys or Something. Actually, he offered, because he liked me so much in our first meeting, to have his people send me a copy. To help me write his movie. And I said "oh, that sounds great," because I had been coached for that meeting by the directors and producers, and one of the rules was that if Jeffrey said anything about story structure or Joseph Campbell, I was supposed to pretend I'd never heard of him. Not kidding. Not exaggerating. Except for the Ted Kopell part. Anwyays, 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, sounds like another hit. I hope there's a shot where the panda leaps in the air and it freezes and orbits him. The storyboard guys love that stuff. And it's their movie. I was under foot. Oh, and I don't know about Rob, but the reason I'm not credited on imdb is because I emailed imdb and pretended I had never heard of Kung Fu Panda. I figured I owed that to Campbell.
Laser! on Jun 6, 2008
Hahahaha. I'm sorry, but your pain is so entertaining. What a great assessment of the film making process of a Dreamworks film.
Gupster on Jun 6, 2008
Very interesting Laser!
Ryan on Jun 6, 2008
Wow! that sounds like an extremely tedious process, as well as, an incredibly frustrating, and hostile atmosphere for any writer to deal with. I can completely understand your need to vent. Also, it explains why most of Dreamworks animated films aren't as cohesive as Pixar's, and why their scripts tend to borrow so much from pop culture, rather than being totally seperate realities. Although, I will admit that Kung Fu Panda still looks like it might be an entertaining film in spite of the manic process that spawned it.
Derek on Jun 6, 2008
Just got back from seeing Kung Fu Panda, and I have to say, yes, I did thoroughly enjoy this film. After listening to Laser's description though, it's amazing that after a process like that, an excellent film could come out of that. I know there are exceptions, but I always figured that great films had crews that were all on the same page. Kind of like how a great sports team has "chemistry" with one another. Obviously things are extremely different on an animated movie, but after that many writers, storyboarders, and even Director's coming in and changing things around, it just seems like it would be a mess. But kudos to Dreamworks for keeping their eye on this story and making sure things never got to effed up. This makes me wonder how things are done over at Pixar. Is there process similar? Completely different? The same on each movie they make? Is it up to the studio, or the writer or the director? As much as I liked Kung Fu Panda, (and I won't ruin the movie here) the story was extremely familiar. Your average, ordinary, "nobody" becoming the hero that he never thought he could be, until he was "chosen" and someone he looked up to starting to believe in him until suddenly...he believed in himself, and that's when he started to kick some real ass...sound familiar? (Ahem...The Matrix...Ahem...and a thousand others I'm sure that many other readers could point out...) Usually makes for a great film, because everyone can identify with feeling like a "nobody" at some point or another, and everyone would love to be a hero. These are the reasons why people go to movies in the first place...they want inspiring, motivating stories that tell the tale of a hero. At least in this kind of movie they do...
Steven Ormsbee on Jun 6, 2008
was horton from dreamworks?i enjoyed that way more that any animated feature since finding nemo/incredibles,they maintained that childlike quality that attracted me to animated films back then before they got really commercialized and contrived.
twispious on Jun 7, 2008
No, no. That wasn't me. Sorry, I grabbed that from the Channel 101 forum. Check it out: channel101.com. He and Rob started it years ago.
Laser! on Jun 7, 2008
Here's the thread it was from: http://www.channel101.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3567&start=15
Laser! on Jun 7, 2008
Damn Laser type enough.............................comment not a chapter 😛 The movie was great just got back from watching it. PIXAR in my opinion has nothing to worry about. The film looked great and jack black was the perfect choice for the panda
SHANE D on Jun 7, 2008
YES! Just got back from watching it. The best Animated film I've seen in years. I was so afraid, going in, that it would turn out like the Shrek Trilogy. Fun and slightly gross for kids, but riddled with sexual innuendo and pretty unfunny. Shrek the Third was the best of the shreks.. at any rate Kung Fu Panda FAR exceeded my expectations..which were pretty friggin high IN THE FIRST PLACE. Well done, the opening was... LEGENDARILY AWESOME! (get it guys?..the opening had a lot to do with awesomeness and legendary legendry..hehe) I had to get up and take a leak during the fight between Shifu and Tai Lung and came back just as that was ending. But I gotta say, there is no way that this film isn't getting a sequel. And there's no way that this film doesn't deserve it. Goin' to see it again tomorrow and possibly the day afterwards. It is THAT good.
Garrett.king on Jun 7, 2008
KUNGFU PANDA KICKS SOME SERIOUS A$$$
therblig on Jun 9, 2008
I've been looking forward to this way more than I have been to Wall-E. My expectations were pretty high, and thankfully they were fully met by KFP. I have no gripes about the "chosen one" story being recycled again for this film. That is an age old tale that gets seems to get dressed up and trotted out in a handful of major films every year. So a film like this falls under Ebert's mantra that it's not important what it is about, what's important is how it is about it. And Panda is about it wonderfully. With apologies to the writers and directors who got skadooshed in the process of cobbling together a routine, inoffensive plot, the masses of children in the theater I went to were completely enthralled with the story. I didn't think it was half bad myself. In the realm of animated domestic films, this was right on par with the Disney-Pixar 'positive message' canon. Jack Black, Ian McShane, and Dustin Hoffman do fantastic with what they were given. Sad to say, but this may be screen legend Hoffman's best role (and film) in 20 years. The rest of the cast ably did what they was were asked to do. I just wish they had been asked to do more, particularly the Big Name Actors making up the Furious Five. The fight scenes were well-staged and appropriately hilarious. I think Panda will hold up well under repeated viewings. This is good news for any parents out there who get nagged into having to purchase the DVD by their whining... I mean cute and sweet but persuasive kids. At the very least you should be glad that you won't have to listen to any cloying Elton John circle of crap song 100 times a month. (whispers: just make sure you stop the DVD before the credits roll!)
kevjohn on Jun 10, 2008
Hahaha I LOVED this movie! Jack Black And Ian Mcshane AND lets not forget Dustin Hoffman DID AMAZING! i don't think tey could have picked a better cast! i do hope that the 2nd instalment will be As good or better! Because i always like Dreamworks sequels to there movies better the the first like Shrek And Madagascar GREAT MOVIE!
TheWeirdKidInTheBackoftheclass on Jan 14, 2009
excuse me garrett.king , but there will be a sequel of kung fu panda though it's still 2 years of waiting, damn u my impatience
meland343 on May 22, 2009
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