Kung Fu Panda (2008)

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Released 4-Dec-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Various
Game
Quiz
Music Video
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 88:13
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:39) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Osborne
John Stevenson
Studio
Distributor
Dreamworks
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Jack Black
Dustin Hoffman
Angelina Jolie
Ian McShane
Jackie Chan
Seth Rogen
Lucy Liu
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music John Powell
Hans Zimmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

        'There is no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness' - Po

     As a father of two young boys, I don't get to see many films at the cinema, let alone adult focused films (although I did see Quantum of Solace the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it). One movie we did see at the cinema recently, however, was Kung Fu Panda and my older son came out of the cinema attempting to karate kick every wall he passed. He's only 5 so he didn't do a lot of damage but it certainly showed how much he enjoyed the film. He was very excited when the review disc showed up the other day and even wrote me a letter to thank me for getting it. Having said that it is not all roses as the film itself scares him in some parts especially when Tai Lung (the baddie) is onscreen. His 4 year old brother is also very scared by the Tai Lung scenes especially in the prison. I would certainly advise parental previewing if your kids are prone to being scared during movies.

    Anyway, leaving aside the predilections of my own kids, this is a high quality and very entertaining animated feature, one of the best of the recent crop. There is lots of humour, great action and excitement, a high quality voice cast and some phenomenal animation. The style of the film really evokes the spirit of Asian martial arts films especially some of the older style Hong Kong ones I have seen. There is a tribute to the Shaw Brothers in the film (mentioned in the commentary) who ran one of the biggest and most successful martial arts film studios in Hong Kong. The opening sequence of the film of Po dreaming of being a martial arts hero also adds to this feel.

    The story involves a panda, Po (voiced by Jack Black) who works in the noodle shop of his father (who is inexplicably a goose) but dreams of being a Kung Fu hero. In the town in China where they live is a famous Kung Fu academy presided over by the old Master Oogway, a turtle and the younger Master Shifu, a red panda (Dustin Hoffman). Oogway is more the spiritual leader of the school and Shifu runs the actual training of the Kung Fu students. His most famous students are the Furious Five; Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Snake (Lucy Liu) & Crane. They represent the various styles of Kung Fu and they have trained to become the Dragon Warrior. The movie starts on the day that Oogway will decide which of them will become the Dragon Warrior. Po is desperate to attend to watch the competition and announcement but his father wants him to take a noodle cart with him. By various comical misadventures, Po gets shut out of the competition and in trying to get in ends up getting chosen to be the Dragon Warrior.

    This sounds like a good idea to Po until he realises that Shifu and the Furious Five are unimpressed by him and feel they have been cheated by Oogway. Also, a rogue former student of Oogway and Shifu, Tai-lung (a snow leopard) has escaped from a prison devised just to hold him and is on his way back to the school to get his revenge. Of course, all the good characters must join together to fight the baddie.

    Jack Black is great as Po as is Hoffman as the grumpy Shifu. The beautiful score and the fantastic visuals combine with a fun story and some excellent characters to produce a very entertaining family-oriented film. This is Dreamworks first Cinemascope CG animated film.

    Highly Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture was extremely clear and sharp throughout.

    The colour was excellent showing of the great colour scheme of the movie to great effect.

    There were no noticeable artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English for the feature and the commentary. Thy are clear, easy to read and very close to the spoken word

    The layer change occurs at 49:39 and is not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is excellent.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and English Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand.

    The score by Hans Zimmer and John Powell is a great combination of traditional Chinese instruments and more modern instruments.

    The surround speakers were in constant use for crowd noises, fight scenes, explosions and much, much more.

    The subwoofer was also used a lot for fights, thunder, thuds, thumps and the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Extras are 16x9 enhanced.

Menu

    The menu included an intro, lots of motion and a very nice design.

Be A Kung Fu Master

    This section of the disc is more child focused as opposed to the Special Features menu which is more adult focused.

Animals of Kung Fu Panda (6:00) 

    Short kid focused featurette about the various styles of Kung Fu and the animals they are based on. Not bad.

What Fighting Style are You?

    Interactive Quiz which determines what Kung Fu style would suit your personality. I am a Tiger!

Do You Kung Fu?

    Instructional Videos for each style of Kung Fu designed for kids. There is also a 'The Basics' section. Each is about 1 minute long.

Kung Fu Fighting - Music Video by Cee-Lo (2:24)

    Average remake of the old song.

Learn the Panda Dance (4:17)

    4 sets of dance moves taught by a dance teacher accompanied by a group of young dancers. It all seemed a bit rushed and complex for the core audience of under-10s.

Po Around the World (0:30 x 12) 

    The same short scene in 12 languages.

Po's Power Play

    This section includes a game demo and access to DVD-ROM features.

Video Game Demo 

    I could not get this working on my quite new laptop so I can't really comment.

DVD-ROM

    Large selection of printable activities such as puzzles etc.

Special Features

    This contains more adult focused features.

Commentary - Directors John Stevenson & Mark Osborne 

    An interesting and worthwhile commentary which only occasionally lapses into self congratulation. They discuss anime influences, the opening sequence, technical issues, visual motifs and colour themes, their thinking during development and other topics.

Meet The Cast (13:15) 

    Obligatory featurette on the voice cast.

Pushing The Boundaries (7:05) 

    Very short technical featurette on the animation. This really could have been longer.

Dreamworks Animation Video Jukebox

    Bits of lots of Dreamworks product. Anyone who owns another Dreamworks title has seen this.

Previews

    Trailers for other Dreamworks titles.

 

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The 2 Disc Region 1 release contains a significant amount of extra special features not found on the local one disc release. These include

    The only thing missing in Region 1 sems to be the Po around the world extra. Also the Region 1 has French & Spanish 5.1 soundtracks as well. Region 1 by a mile.

    This title is also available on Blu-ray both here and in the US.

Summary

    An exciting, adventurous and amusing animated film.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The disc has a big set of extras which are of pretty good quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Great film but............... - Nicko