Kung Fu Panda
Pandamonium Double Pack
Directed by John Stevenson & Mark Osborne
Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Lui, David Cross, Ian McShane
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release date: November 09, 2008
Kung Fu Panda tells the tale of Po (Jack Black), the son of a noodle maker who somehow becomes the sacred Dragon Warrior. In order to defeat an unspeakably evil foe, Tai Lung (Ian McShane), Po has to learn the art of kung fu and gain the respect of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and the Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross), Monkey (Jackie Chan), and Viper (Lucy Lui).
When Kung Fu Panda first showed up, most people just assumed that it was another “just thrown together” animated flick for kids with Jack Black as a panda. Fortunately, the movie ended up surprising a whole lot of people and made a killing at the box office. Many considered it to be the best animated movie from DreamWorks Animation since Shrek.
I can admit that I was one of those people who thought it would suck and I too ate my words.
Kung Fu Panda is a very funny, very charming family movie — family movie meaning it’s not just for kids, it’s for every single person out there to enjoy. The fantastic balance of humor, heart, action, and beautiful visuals makes it very hard not to enjoy this movie, even if you’re a Jack Black hater. Hell, the visuals alone may sell some people — if you’re like me and really love Asian cultures and styles, there’s more than enough here to go around. The story is solid, the voice acting is all done very well by the cast.
As you all very well know, we live in a time where the computer-animated feature is definitely not “rare” anymore. They come and go faster than we can figure out how they do it. Some are destined to be great before they’re even born, some follow through on their promise to be awful, and sometimes one comes around that surprises you and makes you happy you saw it. That’s exactly what Kung Fu Panda is. Whether you have kids or not, fans of animated movies should grab this one without a doubt.
There are some things that may not sit so well with people, so to be fair, I will mention them. Some of the voices weren’t very well-received, like Jackie Chan’s monkey and his one line (meaning if you’re a Jackie Chan fanatic, this probably won’t satisfy you) and it was a little odd having Dustin Hoffman as the kung fu Master Shifu, but I thought it all worked fine. If I had one bone to pick, it wouldn’t even be about part of the movie. When the movie ends and the credits begin to roll, the one thing that could make me upset occurred — the song “Kung Fu Fighting” started playing and I shed a tear. If only they had a nice, upbeat little score to accompany the credits instead of going to the ultra-cliche song, I would have been the happiest little boy alive, but that did make me sad, but still not nearly anything that ruined how enjoyable the movie was.
If you were able to get the Pandamonium double pack, you got yourself a plethora of special features to keep your kids (and yourself, after they go to bed… don’t lie) very entertained.
DVD Bonus Features
Meet the Cast
First up, a little feature, as the names suggests, where we meet the cast and see them in “action” while voicing their characters.
Pushing the Boundaries
This is your typical “making of” feature. It covers all of the behind-the-scenes stuff; the people, the character effects and all the crazy stuff that goes into making one of these bad boys. There’s also a lot of interviews with the people involved.
Like the “making of” special, only this covers the sound effects from the movie. As they say, with live-action, you get a lot of natural sounds that come into play, but with an animated movie, you have to create every sound you hear, which is a good point. This is them showing us their sound-creating techniques.
Kung Fu Fighting Music Video
Mr. Ping’s Noodle House
Here we have something really cool. This is a video showing a master noodle maker and how he can take a pile of dough and turn it into some of the best noodles you’d likely ever have. As they say, it’s like a damn magic trick and pretty amazing to watch. It’s hosted by Alton Brown from the Food Network’s Good Eats, and is basically just a mini episode of that. I’m a Food Network junkie, so that might have helped.
How to Use Chopsticks
Exactly what is says. This little feature teaches people the proper way to hold and use chopsticks, as well as proper mannerisms for Chinese dining.
Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas
Basically just a little public service announcement with Jack Black informing people about the dangers of all of the crap we as people are building in and around the bamboo forests that Pandas live in. The places that pretty much only exist in one spot on the planet, so an important thing to know.
Dragon Warrior Training Academy
A fairly entertaining little set of games. In order to become the Dragon Warrior, you need to defeat each of the Furious Five’s sections to prove your worth. The instructions are near impossible to read, which isn’t a very good thing, especially when your kid is probably screaming at you and throwing Cheerios to get you to make it work. Fun once you figure it out, though. It’s a DVD game, so it’s not massively complex — “arrows and enter” should do the trick.
To finish off disc one, there’s a DreamWorks jukebox with all kinds of songs from a bunch of movies like Shrek, Bee Movie, and Shark Tale. There’s the ability to put your disc into your computer and get some printable items or links to related stuff. And lastly, the usual trailers and commentaries are available!
Secrets of the Furious Five
This is the 20 or so minute long companion film that was talked about not too long ago. To be honest, I think it was produced just to sell DVDs and that’s never something that sits right with me. Basically, it’s Po the Panda after the events of the movie when he is told to teach a class of young bunnies the art of kung fu. In doing so, he shares the stories of each of the Furious Five and how they came to master kung fu. The problem is, instead of doing this when they were making the movie, they apparently went to do it near DVD time, so half the voices are different people and all the stories are cartoon, not computer animated. Aside from this, it’s a cute little story and I’m sure kids will have no issues with it, so why not.
Learn to Draw
This little feature brings you in with an animator who will teach you how to draw either Po or one of the Furious Five! In my uncontrollable excitement, I immediately picked up my sketch pad for the first time in like 10 years and had at it. Unfortunately, about halfway through, right when everything was looking A-OK, the thing randomly jumps to a point where not only is a bunch of little details done without his showing me, but there’s a damn yin-yang symbol randomly drawn next to Po, like the artist got bored and doodled while they were editing out half the tutorial. Now, I — being the evil genius that I am — grabbed the DVD box and made my own thing happen (and man, was it terrible), but if I were a little kids with bright eyes about drawing him perfectly, I’d likely throw a tantrum.
At right is my lovely artistic abilities. Laugh at me and I shall… probably cry and accept the fairness of your cruelty. Click to see bigger… if you dare do that to your poor eyes.
So his head is tiny and his “long leg” looks like it’s been broken. Before that the leg looked like it had been amputated. I blame the animator for cheating me. This is going right on the fridge.
This is another game. It’s basically your typical street corner game of “which cup is the ball under?” — but with a dumpling instead of a ball.
Pandamonium Activity Kit
This is another that will have you putting your DVD into your computer and brings you to all sorts of stuff. There’s a sound machine, printables, video game demos for Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar: Escape to Africa.
This is a fun one. An instructor along with a group of well-choreographed kids, will teach you all the moves to the Panda Dance. This dance includes moves inspired by most of the characters. Someone better go to a club, do this in the middle of the dance floor, and send me the YouTube video.
Do You Know Kung Fu?
While we know Keanu Reeves does, do you know the legendary martial arts style of kung fu? This feature shows the real styles of kung fu that are used in the movie, like Tiger Style, for example.
Inside the Chinese Zodiac
If you’ve never been to a Chinese restaurant and figured it out from the menu, here you can see which animal of the Chinese Zodiac that you were born under. You can also find out which of the other animals you get along with, which you do not, and some of your tendencies. I’m a rooster. It sounds nothing like who I am, and I found at least 3 other animals that worked much better for me.
Animals of Kung Fu Panda
Here you can see the real animals featured in the movie and how their natural ways inspired the methods of kung fu that is based upon them.
What Fighting Style Are You?
This one gives you a short quiz and based on your answers, you find out which of the fighting styles would suit you best! Be honest, no picking just so you can be the one you want to be — cheaters. I’m telling. I was a Tiger.
That’s about it. As you can tell, there’s a ton of stuff included here, so Kung Fu Panda well worth the cost, especially if you have little ones to entertain.