Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Movie #34: Kung Fu Panda

We may not be able to fully appreciate it right now, but we are truly living in the golden age of animated cinema. It's not just that the technical artistry of digital animation has reached previously unknown heights, but the care given to story, dialogue, voice acting and sound design rivals the best of non-animated movies...and, does so, seemingly, on a much more regular basis. From Ratatouille to WALL-E to Horton Hears a Who to Kung Fu Panda, chances are pretty good if you go see an animated film these days that you're in for something special.
Kung Fu Panda, while perhaps being the least ambitious of those four films, may actually be the most enjoyable. Jack Black is perfectly cast as the title character, and Dustin Hoffman is also wonderful as his vaguely Jewish master and mentor. Ian McShane of Deadwood fame turns in a chilling performance as the villain, and his character's on-screen introduction instantly goes down as a classic moment. There aren't many surprises here. The plot is about what you'd expect, albeit a bit darker than the usual fare, but the animation is brilliant and exhilarating...easily the best (or damn close) I've seen in a movie. Evidently the inclusion of clothing on furry animals is a major hurdle in digital animation. Who knew?
Put simply, the whole damn thing works. It's hilarious for most of the movie, thrilling in parts, and moving in others. They don't have to make these animated movies this good to make as much money as they do, but I'm ever so grateful that they do.
Grade: 9/10

1 Comments:

Blogger JMW said...

This was definitely one of the best movies I saw in '08. Glad you enjoyed it, and Happy '09...

January 1, 2009 at 11:00 PM  

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