Kung Fu Panda kicks ass!

kungfulineup.jpg

I see a lot of animated features in advance and, for the most part, keep my opinions to myself until the movie is in general release. Today I had the opportunity to screen Kung Fu Panda and cannot contain myself. I’m not going to write a review or post spoilers – but I just want to alert you to what I believe is one of the best CG animated films I’ve ever seen.

Yup. Right up there with The Incredibles. Dreamworks has done it. No joke.

The art direction, the voices, the character animation, the comedy, the action scenes, the opening 2-D cartoon sequence, the heart… it all works. Don’t miss this in a theatre. I don’t care what you think of the trailer, or Dreamworks track record, or anything like that. None of that matters. This film is good, and will a big hit. Mark my words – you’ll want the action figures.

Yes, this is a rave. I’ll post a more formal review as we get closer to its release. I just wanted to be the first to tell you.

[Disclosure: I am currently working on a book (unrelated to Kung Fu Panda) for Dreamworks.]


  • Christopher Olson

    With the Brew’s anti-Dreamworks bias, all I can say is, I believe you.

    I wasn’t impressed at all with the trailer, but now I’ll keep an open mind.

  • http://www.tommyday.com Tommy Day

    Well Jerry, when you wrote saying that Surf’s Up was actually good, I thought it sounded unlikely but when I saw it I loved it, so I’m definitely seeing this now too!

  • http://www.hasenkamm.de Thorsten Hasenkamm

    THAT’s what I thought when I first saw the trailer a few months ago…I’m not a big DW-fan and I haven’t watched the movie of course but I believe (hope) you’re right! Can’t wait for the Art of Kung-Fu Panda book…

  • http://doubleben.blogspot.com/ Emmett Goodman

    No kidding, Mr. Beck.

    I admit to being biased when it comes to Dreamworks animated features. From what it sounds, Dreamworks is starting to turn around a bit. What Dreamworks lacks is heart, and hearing you, Mr. Beck, say that this film has a heart, well that’s a major thing to hear.

    Maybe there’s hope for Dreamworks.

  • red pill junkie

    I’ll take your word for it, Jerry, and give it a try once it comes out here in Mexico.

  • Andrew

    Yeah, I await a more official review when the time comes, of course.

    While listing and cooing over all the things that are great about it, I noticed you didn’t mention the word’ story’? *turns table on its side and ducks behind it*

  • Zep

    “Turning around a bit”. sigh Well, that’s something.

    The general hardcore fan antipathy to anything, literally anything from this particular studio is so entrenched that it’ll take more than a plain old good film to sway them. But perhaps Panda will. “A bit”.

    It should be said, though that just about every negative cliche I read here expressed by the aforementioned hardcore haters as regards Dreamworks is in fact completely wrong. I’m not talking about matters of opinion but assumptions about how the films are actually made, and by whom. Whose work it is that you see up there.

    Full disclosure: I haven’t worked on “Kung-Fu Panda”, but I do think the images and clips I’ve seen are terrific.

  • http://www.jessica-plummer.com Jessica Plummer

    Glad you’re so excited for this film, Jerry. It confirms my excitement for it as well ever since I saw bits of it in production. It was something coming out of Dreamworks that really surprised me as so well tied together – art, animation, design, color…can’t wait to see it!

  • http://escapistcartoons.blogspot.com Behonkiss

    What.

    The trailer for this movie was pretty awful, so unless they only chose to show bad parts in it, are you sure you aren’t using hyperbole?

  • matt

    Cool that you loved it Jerry, but you know the litmus test for CG is if Amid likes it.

    ;)

  • http://allenpov.blogspot.com Enoch Allen

    Bad promotion can sometimes plague good movies.

    The Kung Fu Panda trailer didn’t put the film in the best light, but it doesn’t make the film unwatchable. I will be among the first in line for this film.

  • http://RyanMcCulloch.com Ryan McCulloch

    I’ve loved the character design from the start, especially the turtle. With your glowing review, I may just have to see it.

  • http://afrokids.com Floyd Norman

    I’m not working on a DreamWorks book, but I liked it anyway.

  • Tom Pope

    Hope you’re right. We can always use a good animated movie.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I saw some of it last week. It’s a great film that suffers from BAD marketing!

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    It could be that the same kind of dumb marketing that kept people away from Sony’s Surf’s Up, which should have been huge last year, dammit!

    I haven’t seen anything I’m truly nuts about in the trailers (other than the art direction and animation). Didn’t seem to be funny or a particularly original vision, but I’m optimistic. I was going to see it anyway, just because it looks so tasty.

  • http://www.octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    I’ll believe it when I see it, but this coming from YOU Jerry, that might say something. Especially if you say it’s on par with the Incredibles. If Amid was the one raving…..well…diferrence of opinion.

  • David

    I got to look around the halls during the production, and the concept art was easily the most impressive stuff I’d ever seen from Dreamworks.

    I was pretty surprised they used the word “suck” in a G-rated trailer.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    Perhaps Dreamworks needs to start making their own trailers, like Pixar has been doing with Wall-E
    So that they can tantalize people.

  • http://cannedgeek.com/ Kyle

    Wait, what? Really?

  • Altred Ego

    Personally I thought Surfs Up was a terrible film, with cardboard characters and a plot that would be obvious to anyone over the age of 15. I don’t think Dreamworks can deliver an honest film. I believe they can deliver a good looking film, or a ‘pop culture orgy’ film, or a star ego-project film, but honesty?
    I’d be curious to know what elevates this above Beverly Hills Ninja or any other underachiever learns to be a hero film.
    I will say that this is a good looking film. It “looks” good. There are many people at Dreamworks who wear the chef’s hat. Too many. How much “heart” can it have when considerations like inevitable sequels and spin-off films and plush toys and McDonald’s tie-ins have to be considered.

    I hope that I am wrong, but I certainly won’t shell out the almost 20 bucks to find out. There are better films that are coming out that I have no reservation will not be a soul-sucking franchise-in-the-making.

  • Erica

    Well, I’ll take your word for it! Now I want to see it :D

  • http://www.pegbarproductions.com Simon Stahl

    Trailers for animated movies _always_ make them look wacky and silly and insanely stupid. They show off the broadest jokes the movie has, just like how action movie ads tend to show the second-biggest explosion.
    In general they’re very misleading – a bunch of kids told me they were pissed off that Shrek 3 only showed their babies at the end, when the ads made that out to be the whole movie.
    Thanks for the tip, Jerry, I wasn’t planning on paying to see it.

  • rodguen

    Wow!

    It’s so rare to read positive feedback about something DW’s done.

    I did work on the movie for nearly 5 years and am still a fan.
    Yes, there is “heart” in this good story.

    I am very pleased that you liked it, Jerry.

  • John A

    I try to judge every animated movie I see on a film by film basis, rather than a knee-jerk “this studio can do no wrong” or “everything this studio does is crap” attitude. To be honest, I wasn’t planning to see this (I couldn’t tell what audience they were aiming for) but now I’m going to have to check it out.

  • http://maketeanotwar.co.uk The GagaMan(n)

    Jerry, you more often than not get it right for me even if the trailer didn’t for anything for me. The same could be said for Surf’s Up which I had doubts about and would have missed out on had you not praised it up, and that turned out to be fantastic. I’ll keep my little peepers out for it.

  • http://torontoanimation.blogspot.com TempleDog

    Whooo…gush much? Well, it’s got the Jerry stamp of approval, that’s good enough for me. No, seriously, not being sarcastic or nothing…when Jerry gets this enthusiastic, good watchin’ is afoot. I’ll be checkin’ it out at a rep theatre after the release, though…the movie might rock, but I guarantee you the commercials they place before the movie will make you want to murder puppies.

  • http://persistenceofvision.blogspot.com/ Ethan

    Your not the first person I’ve heard to say this. Can’t wait to see it.

  • dan

    Cool!

    If it’s as good as you say, I can’t wait to see Kung Fu Panda 1 thru 7!!!

  • Ant

    I keep an open mind when it comes to the big studios. I have to say that this film does look really good to me and i’m happy to hear your opinion. Lets hope the trend continues.

  • Alex

    ……

    Nope. Don’t believe yah. Sorry.

    …because its called Kung Fu Panda….

  • http://gavinscartoons.blogspot.com Gavin

    I’m glad you like it Jerry, and I will keep an opened mind to it. I saw some pieces (not the trailer) of it and was un-impressed. It just seems like another “Hey let’s hire some famous people to do the voices and ditch the story”. I hope I’m wrong. I’ll wait till it comes out on DVD…

  • hayden

    I’m a little embarrassed to write this, but Dwks had me at “Kung-fu”

  • http://dtoons-pro.com Alex D.

    Well, I’m going to see it anyway, but if you say it’s good, then I look more forward to seeing it.

  • Kelly Tindall

    Thrilled to hear it, Jerry. I’m definitely checking it out now.

  • Ale

    Oh my god you guys….
    “Oh strange for DreamWorks to make a good movie…” “DreamWorks sucks…”
    We are all sick of your cliché collective opinion typed on your shiny apple laptop sticky with undeserved sense of accomplishment.
    Not one comment in this whole page was about the movie, interests in the movie curiosity about it’s choices… only about how can a good movie come out from a company that the Geek council has declared not worthy?
    Would you guys even have an opinion if your movies didn’t have labels and title? what would happen if you walk into a theater after the movie started, not knowing if there was a little jumping lamp in front… or a fisher boy on a half moon…. Or a castle… would you even have an opinion?
    Just go watch it if you want, like it if it’s good, hate it if it’s bad! It’s that simple guys.

  • Bobby D.

    Ale, you are my idol! God Bless perspective!

  • haha

    I KNEW it would be good. I saw some extended clips about a year or so ago. Everyone in the room knew that Dreamworks had a huge hit on their hands.

    Congrats Dreamworkers! Keep making great films that we love to watch.

  • Graham

    I haven’t been impressed by a single DreamWorks Animation film since Shrek won the Oscar and the pride went to their heads. It was so bad that Sony had a more impressive animation slate.

    With this and Monsters vs. Aliens on the horizon, it looks like DWA really IS coming back full throttle, and hearing those comments from you, Jerry, reaffirms my faith in them.

    All they have to do now is dump the upcoming Shrek and Madagascar sequels and everything would be just peachy.

  • http://blog.al.com/nightlife M@

    I’m still skeptical, considering Jerry’s similar pre-release raves about “Bee Movie.” Nevertheless, I hope he’s right — I want “Kung Fu Panda” to be good.

  • Carlo

    Graham… honestly?… that’s your opinion? Dreamworks should drop Shrek and Madagascar? Dreamworks’s goal (as ANY other company out there) is to make movies that can reach the most people out there, thus making the most money for their investor. So far for Dreamworks that was Shrek and Madagascar. And you say they should drop them to please a couple of thousand wanna be critics Geeks like your self? What are you talking about? Yeah, and McDonald’s should stop making the Big Mac.

    Please read what “Ale” wrote 4 comments ago. It’s a comment exactly about you.

    By the way, even the geek council’s beloved Pixar is doing Cars 2, why? Because it’s the best movie ever and people are dying to know what happened to our beloved characters? More than Nemo? More than Monsters? More than the incredibles family? No! because it’s the movie that made the most money in merchandising! And people want more of that!

  • Steve Gattuso

    I’m not predisposed against Dreamworks. I enjoyed “Madagascar” and “Over the Hedge,” and am willing to give anything they make a shot that isn’t a Shrek sequel or a movie starring fish with big lips.

  • Bobby D.

    “By the way, even the geek council’s beloved Pixar is doing Cars 2, why? Because it’s the best movie ever and people are dying to know what happened to our beloved characters? More than Nemo? More than Monsters? More than the incredibles family? No! because it’s the movie that made the most money in merchandising! And people want more of that!”

    Great points Carlo! And if we tally-up the sequels…Pixar so far has, “Toy Story 2, “Toy Story 3″ and “Cars 2″ = 3 SEQUELS. Over at money grubbing Dreamworks we have – Shrek’s 2,3 and 4, “Madagascar 2″ = 4 SEQUELS. Whoa baby what a huge difference!

    We see what we wanna see. I see a lot of really good people doing a lot of really great animation, entertaining people all over the world:) Long live Jesse and Stinky Pete!

  • Graham

    Just to defend my comments…

    The reason why I think Shrek should be put to sleep has nothing to do with bias against sequels; it’s because his fairy tale is done. He got married. He had kids. It’s a happy ending.

    Think of what you said about Cars 2 and apply that to Shrek: DreamWorks HAS shown us what happened after it ended. Twice already. It’s done, or at least it should be. The addition of his newborns is just like what happened to Rugrats when Dylan joined the cast: It went ker-plunk. They don’t need to shove it in our faces any longer, and it could only get worse from here.

    As for Madagascar 2: Watch the teaser on the official site (http://www.madagascar-themovie.com) and the longer trailer (http://www.trailerspy.com/movie-trailers/view/451/madagascar-2-the-crate-escape-teaser). Kung Fu Panda actually had a decent trailer, but THIS is just mind numbing.

  • matt

    Ale, I would absolutely agree with you, but your snide blanket statement about Apple users makes you the pot calling the kettle black. What you say is absolutely right for EVERYTHING, not just animation studios.

  • Scott

    It may make money Jerry, but it will be buried when Wall E hits, now that Pixar has the creative reigns of the Mouse empire, they have succeded in getting practically everybody I know salivating and the prospects of CG Robot Movie with dead silence for the first 30 minutes!

  • a wizard is never late

    Dreamworks is going to promote the film at Cannes Film Festival in May, staging a special event just like they did with Bee Movie last year. That being said Kung Fu Panda has more potential and the cast is likely to attract more people as well.

  • http://www.realmofquickpaw.com QuickPaw

    I’m definately looking forward to this ^_^! Maybe this will be the Jack Black fix I need to wash away “Be Kind, Rewind” from my mind (granted, it wasn’t a terrible movie…but eh…it just didn’t know what it was in the end).

  • PopeyeFan

    Well, given the rave snippet posted here, my interest in this movie has been enlivened and I might see it in theatres. But I’m still against the formulaic theme chosen by the movie. How many more furry animals with celebrity voiceover animated movies do we need? Hopefully, this movie will be good enough to justify the trend.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto González

    I don’t like the gags in the trailer at all, but I do like the visuals and I enjoyed Bee Movie a lot. It was Jerry Seinfeld, though, and I find him a lot funnier than Jack Black. Though Black is usually good dubbing cartoon characters. My only problem with Bee Movie were the visuals, I’d love a movie with that script and the visuals of Horton…or better, 2d Spongebob movie-like visuals. The good thing about the pop culture gags in Bee Movie was that they were related to the story and they were poignant. It even had some resemblance with Looney Tunes in its humor.

    The designs in this movie are quite good but a tiny bit generic, speaking about the main character especially. He’s just…a Panda. It’s nicely done but there is nothing special about him. Well, he’s quite fat, but that’s all. The little mentor guy looks better.

    I didn’t like Surf’s Up either. I was really dissapointed with Horton, it could have been so much better.

    I still watch most animated movies in theater, though. At the very least most of them are entertaining. But I’d really like to see something more relevant, even if it’s a comedy. I really hope this one is as cool as Jerry says.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll take your word for it. The artwork sure looks good. I’ll make sure to see it. But answer me this, do the characters sing and dance at the end of this movie like every other animated Dreamworks movie? Or did they give this an actual ending?

  • http://fpsmagazine.com Terrence Briggs

    I’ll put it down as “good, but not great”. It depends FAR too much on lame pratfalls for my taste, and I dig old-school Looney Tunes. The action is incredible, however. The three main performances are fine, the Old Turtle is excellent, but pretty much everyone else is stuck in cameo roles.

    Think of it as a goofier, less subtle Incredibles.

  • Morgan Rose

    I visited the Kung Fu Panda website…. That was all I needed to be inspired to see the movie! I will not be coy in saying that I have hated the last few CG movies by Dreamworks, but even the website I felt contained this ‘heart’ which was so deprived from the other films.

    I went to see this long awaited film yesterday and let me say that it greatly exceeded all my expectations! Not only was it visually stunning, but the story and characters were remarkably well done.

    The one thing that truly made this film special though was the circulation and conclusions of themes.

    I implore you; WATCH THE CREDITS!
    At the very end there’s a surprise! That’s all I’ll say….