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Feature Film

Kung Fu Panda trailer


Based on what little I’ve seen from this film, it looks awesome.
Here’s the latest trailer from Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda.

  • Brian Ellis

    Who would have thought that Carl Douglas would end up the richest duck in duckberg?

  • I think this is definitely an improvement on past DreamWorks films. The designs are lovely, the animation is lovely story could be nice assuming its not too hyperactive, but for goodness sake how many times can you reuse the slow motion with slowed down sound track shot and expect it to be funny? Let alone in the same movie.

  • eero

    Some of the backgrounds in the trailer have great designs and colors but otherwise I don’t really see anything that would make this stand out from the other mediocre dreamworks movies, not the jokes in the trailer for sure.
    The humor of martial arts has been drained completely within the last decade, and I don’t see how this would bring anything new. Looks like the same old story of an improbable ‘funny’ character turning into a master of martial arts – to everyone’s surprise(!). Dreamworks’s animated features somehow reminds me of those cheap copies of famous cartoons on dvd found in supermarkets, except made with a huge budget.

  • Julian Carter

    The video’s still loading for me, but strangely, I can’t think of myself feeling too happy about the film. What would you think, Mr. Beck, if I had to tell you that I have a strong dislike for DreamWorks films? Well, it’s the truth, and I’m not quite sure from where it originated. I think that it might have started from the insults DreamWorks used to regularly hurl at Disney (if I recall correctly), and as I’m a Disney fan, that might have made me bitter. Couple that with the fact that most DreamWorks films must have a fart joke and some toilet humour thrown in somewhere, and that probably sums up the reason why I dislike the animation studio.

    Nevertheless, I wish I didn’t. Why do such little things have to psychologically affect me so as to render my viewings of DreamWorks films so less pleasing than they should be!? This means that even if I secretly like the Shrek films or Over the Hedge, I will talk of them as passable entertainment and just that. I will not praise them … I’m biased against them. I wish I could just wipe my slate clean and forget the strained relationship my mind has with the studio. I feel the reasons for which I dislike DreamWorks are not justified. They’re just personal obsessions.

    I know I’ve really gone out of point in this post (I should be talking about Kung Fu Panda) but I’d really like to know what you think about what I had to say.


    OK, now I’ve seen the trailer. The animation certainly looks lovely, but as always, I always feel a little put off by the hip, cool style the studio opts for. Somebody cure my DreamWorks-phobia!

  • Chris

    My thoughts exactly David! They already used up its comedic value in a 2 minute trailer! Frankly I’m a little scared to see how painful the slo-mo gag gets in the full 2 hour movie! Overall though it looks infinitely better than Bee Movie but I wish the designs were pushed a little more like Sony did on Open Season. I do like the epic scope feel of some of the shots though. I wish they would play it a little more serious and a little less Beverly Hills Ninja, but this is just a trailer.

  • robiscus

    I’m just blown away that they used “Kung Fu Fighting” as the theme track for this Kung Fu movie. I think its a clear indication that the people at Dreamworks have headed down an fresh exciting path of innovation and new ideas. I mean… “Kung Fu Fighting”! Being used as the soundtrack of a Kung Fu film!! That has NEVER been done before!
    (and the Kill Bill music!… color me impressed!)
    When i think about that intelligent approach i’m sure that every other aspect of this film is going to be just as unique and creative!

    you see my point.
    I liked this movie better when it was released as ‘Beverly Hill Ninja’ with Chris Farley.

  • El

    Martial Arts Panda? Fierce Fighting over dumplings? It’s like Ranma 1/2 all over again.

    The animation is cute, but what exactly is the virtue in the animals-instead-of-people thing? Is it just to children’s movies of the 200x’s what pastel colours and crack superhero teams were to the 1980s? Or is it some sort of admission that actual humans don’t work as well?

  • christy

    and how many times can they use that stupid kung fu fighting song and that kill bill song in movie trailers? yuck.

  • Killroy McFate

    There’s a sequence in the movie where the Panda trains by beating a dead horse. Jeffrey LOVED it!

  • I laughed once, smiled once, and winced once. So I don’t know. I think maybe we all, by this point, understand the importance of “believing” but maybe the film has some redeeming value. I like when the animation of the master punching the panada at the end.

  • Only gag I really enjoyed is “When you focus on Kung Fu…you suck!”. Other than that I don’t find it very funny, but at least the visuals are quite spectacular and some of the designs are pretty good (the others are good). I also find the subject more or less original. Oh, and I totally agree with David about the slow motion thing. It’s the new “character burping” gag. At least it’s on better taste but it’s still annoying. Overall it looks entertaining enough I guess. I also see an improvement in recent Dreamworks films, but they still have their flaws.

  • Tommy

    So I guess Jack Black is officially the new Chris Farley, huh

  • slowtiger

    Hm – isn’t that the plot of Beverly Hills Ninja, substituting a panda for Chris Farley? There has to be a lot more animated fun in it to beat that …

  • red pill junkie

    Pander to me, Dreamworks :-)

  • Rob T.

    Now when you say “it looks awesome”, was there supposed to be a [thump] sound effect right before the word “awesome”?

  • Chappell

    It truly does look beautiful but I long for the days of hiring people who specialize in actual vocal talent to perform the script. In the same room. Together. I know hiring Seth Rogen to read for a skunk means major dollars but these cartoons just don’t seem to sit well. They’re almost unnatural. For the first time, I saw Curious George in its entirety the other night and it’s most obvious flaw seemed to be the disembodied voices that don’t seem to acknowledge each other. But I’m pretty sure we’ve fully covered this topic and have done enough shoulder shrugging.

  • Floyd Norman

    The good people over at DreamWorks were nice enough to show me some footage from Kung Fu Panda.

    Looking good. Of course, I’m a big Jack Black fan.

  • Its should be interesting to see what the animators from Dreamworks has come up with the martial arts sequence. They really nail the subtle grace and fluid motion with the Tiger character. Hopefully, we would get to see drunken style in vintage Jackie Chan fashion.

  • I like a lot of the Dreamworks movies, but this doesn’t look as great as they think it would be. The only joke that I found funny was the one at the end of the trailer.
    I’m still going to see it though. It can’t be worse than Shark Tale.

  • rachel

    Actually, using animals for this film instead of people IS pretty clever as there are many styles of Kung Fu based on–and named for–specific animals (monkey, tiger, panther, praying mantis, crane, snake, etc).

    I think I too am biased against Dreamworks, but I actually want to see this movie; while the trailer didn’t exactly blow me away as far as the humor goes (though the dumpling thing was hilarious), I think it looks farily well-animated and I remain cautiously optimistic. :)

  • Bobby D.

    To Julian Carter: try this… I like Dreamworks…I like Disney…I like Pixar…I like Sony Pictures Animation…I like Miramax, I like Warner Bros. Animation…I like Fox Animation, I like Blue Sky Animation Studios…I every studio that’s making animated films…

    Once you judge projects as separate, independent forms of art, you won’t have to play the, “this studio’s better than that studio, bla, bla,bla. ENJOY!

  • Chuck R.

    I’ll agree with Al —that the tiger looks and moves great! Some of those environments are really impressive too. Reminds me of Bacher or Serrano. And if you can judge a book by it’s cover, the KFP promo still above looks a heck of a lot better than the one we saw for Bolt.


  • M.C.

    Wow.. lot of haters in this bunch. Can you really tell that it sucks from a trailer? I’ll never understand the whole “I hate Dreamworks” mentality out in the blogishere. What a bunch of wasted energy. Making films is hard. I’d like to see some of the haters try it sometime…

  • Just to be clear… I sincerely think Kung Fu Panda will be a huge commercial hit – and artistically satisfying. It looks good to me from the trailer (admittedly not the way to judge any film). The outpouring of negative reaction in these comments is a surprise to me.

  • Daniel M.

    Would somebody please stop treating these studios like football teams. “I’m a disney fan” “I’m a pixar fan”, blah blah blah. Yes we all know dreamworks hasn’t put out the most sophisticated, original stories in the past, but is it SO hard to believe they are able to put out an entertaining film that makes people leave the theatre with a smile? For some of you, yes it seems you cant get the pop hype of disney/pixar out of your heads.

    If folks could stop comparing every small aspect of everything to whats been done everywhere else before, you might actually find yourself enjoying something. Try being a kid again, when you didn’t over criticize the color of blue or the consistency of dirt. You might actually be surprised you liked something, even though you’d probably never admit it.

    Not everything is going to sell you like ‘superbad’ or any other laugh out loud comedy, because its simply not that. Oh no, dreamworks may actually have a good story this time?! yes, I betcha they do.

  • Pedro Nakama

    The characters and the rendering look really good. Story… is this a remake of the Chris Farley film Beverly Hills Ninja?

  • Chappell

    Why so angry at criticism, even if you think it’s ill conceived? Criticism is what makes a field such as this strive to work harder and develop new ways of telling a story.

  • tom

    Pretty, I’ll give it that.

    I’m waiting for Sony, Blue Sky and Pixar’s next CG animations instead. DW’s star-effing casting and uninspired scripts continue to keep me at bay.

  • robiscus

    Putting together a funny, entertaining trailer from a quality movie is a very easy thing to do. A clever, funny trailer can even be put together from a bad film(although it takes a lot of work). When a giant studio like Dreamworks can’t even entice viewers that their movie is entertaining from its trailer, that very, very, very, rarely bodes well for the film. When they are re-using gags(slo mo) in a trailer, its indicative that there is a genuine lack of them in the film. Now thats an educated angle on trailers representing movies, but even from a gut reaction this trailer is pretty crappy – and i’m allowed to judge the movie from it because thats the purpose that trailers serve! People make judgments on whether to see a movie based on the trailer. The trailer for this movie was unimaginative, cliche, and a general let down. Couple that with the fact that an executive dreamed up this rehashed premise, two people are directing, and writers have come and gone through revolving doors on the project.
    I smell a stinker.
    I could be wrong of course, but i’m inclined to think that way with the information available. Certainly, nothing makes me think this movie is going to be “awesome”. I’ve seen everything before.

  • The only film from Dreamworks I’ve ever enjoyed was Madagascar.

    Kung-Fu Panda looks promising, the animation looks really high quality, the characters look nice, some of the jokes in the trailer have already been done to death but that’s okay, if the rest of the film turns out to not be such a cliche.

    So looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

  • Ellen Yu

    Just as long as there isn’t stereotypical Asian accents galore, I’m a happy camper. A lot better than what I thought it was going to be.

  • M.T. Chiswell

    It looks gorgeous…..but sofar it doesn’t appear to be any different than anything else that has ever been put out. Some of the major negative points have already been mentioned (BHN remake, kung fu loser turns great, etc).

    Ratatouille is the ONLY movie in the last 6 years orso that has made me sit up and pay attention.

    M.C…..I DO make films…or rather, the studio I work for makes films. I know it’s hard. Which makes me wonder even more why retarded scripts get greenlit…..fast tracked…(andre3000, anyone?)

    I don’t feel myself a “hater”, I am just expressing an opinion.

  • The Obvious

    Some of the shots in this trailer are simply stunning in scope, and anyone who has ever seen the work of Dreamworks’ concept artists knows how many talented individuals they employ. The fact may be, that most audience members (myself included) are tired of the faux irreverent comedy/animal Dreamworks film.

    I hate to get heavy here, because this film really isn’t out to do anything but entertain and amuse, but it seems to me that the world many of us feel we are living in needs a little more than entertainment and amusement from its art. Animation (and art in general) could be so much more than it has become in this country, and there is a genuine need for inspiration, authenticity and honesty from the artist today.

  • eddie

    i dont see why dreamworks’ movies all seem the same. cool designs and all, but maaan, some of that stuff i just too annoying to watch. i thought they would tackle kung fu in a more original way, this is like watching my 8 year old cousin’s dream of a kung fu parody come to life. it just lacks wit and originality.

  • Beverly Hills Ninja comes to mind….
    Someone please use actual Chinese actors for Kung Fu movies… oh wait, that would be controversial. My mistake…

  • Karl S.

    The positive side of the trailer is that maybe all of the sass jokes are now out of the way. That leaves 90 minutes to actually tell a story and like the characters. That will be 90 minutes more than Madagascar. I could care less about the designs–they won’t matter if the film doesn’t work. My fingers are crossed. No doubt there is talent at dreamworks, however.

  • Altred Ego

    Thank you, The (not-so) OBVIOUS.
    My thoughts exactly!
    Nice to know I’m not alone out here.

  • Matt Sullivan

    It’s very pretty. Could be terrific, and surprising. And yet, I get a wierd fear of typical formula-ism here. Goofy character wisecracks until something goes wrong..or some inciting incident compells him to “TRY HARD”

    Eh. I dunno. It DOES look amazing..

    Still, I am irritated by corny jokes and promoting Jack Black as the reason to go see this film.

  • Man, Kung Fu Panda looks like an awesome project. Even the trailer looks awesome. And the second one too. And it seems like they’re trying to do something a little different than just “Happy funny panda bad at kungfu” movie thing.

  • Leedar

    The more I watch this trailer, the more horrible I feel this is. The only redeemer is that trailers can distort the actuality of films… sometimes.

    The scenery is mostly boring, sparse and strangely desaturated and/or jarringly coloured. Its pseudo-Eastern flatness clashes badly with mostly typical bulgy-eyed, three-dimensional American cartoon characters. Naturally the animation itself is competent, but highly unoriginal or interesting.

    It’s basically looking like the usual unnotable kid’s movie that will make money as long as nothing better screens beside it. An exploitation of most childrens’s undeveloped critical faculties.

    Movies that can appeal to children don’t have to be crap, you know.

  • What I have seen of this film (much more than this trailer) has been quite good. The characters are well designed, the environments are beautiful, and the action is intense. I am looking forward to this film very much. It would be interesting to read people’s comments if they were unaware of which studio made which films. It seems that some people just like to hate on films from certain studios. This is a new film with new characters and new worlds. It’s not a sequel to something we’ve been seeing since the 90’s. Be thankful for that and try to enjoy this film for what it is, a lighthearted action/adventure/comedy. I don’t think there’s a market for a main stream animated “War & Peace”.

  • ZigZag

    How To Make A Good Trailer
    by The Varsity Team

    Lesson 1 – The Incredibles:

    One Guy. One Room. Mostly one angle. Brilliant teaser.

    Put every D’works trailers together, and they don’t even come close to those 3 minutes.

    Lesson 2 – Monsters Inc.

    Two characters. One room. Held camera.

    Lesson 3 – Ice Age

    One character. Many shots, but overall, a simple story with no dialogue, and great animaton.

    Now try to forget who made those films. Just remember the animation, the timing, the tease about them all. Then, go watch that “Kung Fu Pander” trailer, or even the teaser on the official site.

    ‘Nuf Said.

  • So… Skunk Fu then?

    A kung fu Panda. Cartoon Saloon even used the tired Kung Fu fighting track in their early trailer too – and, actually, it worked as they pretty much sold it on that track alone at the Cartoon Forum.

    Of course I know how long this has been in development so it’s not like it really could have ripped it off. Personally, I think it looks pretty crappy but I have no doubt it will do great.

  • Bobby D.


    Just off the top of my head, that Monsters Inc. trailer had nothing to do with the actual film,(they didn’t use credit cards to break in to kids rooms), and the scene was not part of the movie…it was a commercial trailer, done way in advance…which is a trademark of Pixar. I think you need to compare apples to apples. Especially, if you’re going to go through so much trouble to “make your point”. I’m too tired to respond to all of the other trailers. But, we’re getting WAY too worked-up over this cool looking film.

  • I’m surprised you didnt post about the new Wal-E trailer that leaked online, Jerry.
    It showed off alot of new footage including the first video of Eve, the little female robot that lands on earth. Extremely cute.

    If I recall its on some weird blogsite called “pixar trailer” or “wal-e trailer” or something. I think it might have been on blogger.

    The trailer also had someone narrating it. It sounded like Ian Mckellen a little.

  • Mat

    It looks nice and I will be interested to see how the final movie turns out. Hopefully it will be better than most Dreamworks movies.

  • “Kung Fu Fighting” is a classic song. Who wants to listen to Silly Love Songs when you can listen to a song about somebody kung-fuing somebody’s butt. Wooh-o-o-oooooh! Uhhh!

  • J

    Despite the story not being especially original, and the fact that it’s coming at a time when everyone seems to be a bit fatigued from all the wise-ass talking animal films, It actually looks like it’s going to be alot of fun – taken on it’s own merit.

    I do wish all the big US studios would break out and try something different though.

  • Suze

    Yikes! alot of negativity!
    I actually see great potential in this trailer. I like the looks of the characters, and the movement looks awesome! The story seems simple, but fun. I think this is a great direction for Dreamworks to go in.
    I’ll gladly take Kung fu fighting song that a trailer full of fart jokes or them getting hit in the groin (which I have to admit I was kind of expecting).
    I also really like the Tiger character and the fact that she doesn’t have a chest, or bows stuck to her head. It’s a really cool design.
    I’ll definitely give this movie a shot!

  • Paul N

    Who would’ve guess that this many people have actually watched “Beverly Hills Ninja”?…

  • Matt Sullivan

    Just more silly animals…but i’m willing to give it a chance. You never know how good a film is until you SEE it.

    Still…American animation needs to step beyond funny animal formula-ness.

  • ZigZag

    Bobby D:

    Good point, and good thinking. I do agree.

    That being said, I think the difference in approaches to how Pixar and D’works sell their films says a lot. Clearly, the early trailers of a lot of the Pixar films are compiled of tests of their characters. The Mr. Incredible bits of him trying to put on a belt definitely seem as though it is compiled of a series of quick shots that different animators did with the same directive: animate Mr. Incredible trying to put on his super belt that is too small for him.

    I guess I’m just trying to suggest (or echo) what has been said. Namely, Dreamworks believes that with enough research and analysis, they can make something that is special. There’s just a whole other level of storytelling being missed by Dreamworks, and frankly, I’d love to see them hit it soon. I’ve had a lot of high hopes for the studio ever since I was in school.

    Of course, I hope I’m very wrong about my opinion. I hope KFP destroys all comers, and makes the people who made the trailer rethink their approach. After all, my good buddy is one of the leads on the project, and the buzz from inside the studio is huge for this film – so I really do hope it succeeds.

  • Chris

    Jerry to be honest I had to struggle to keep my comments as positive as they were. What did you see in the trailer that appealed to you? Your post didn’t state anything specific but had a tone like it was just obviously good but maybe I just didn’t catch on to the things that grabbed your attention.

  • It’s entirely possible that the music being cribbed in the trailer won’t turn up in the film at all. How many trailers have overused “Carmina Burina,” “Who Let the Dogs Out,” and now “Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That” (put THAT mix on your iPod), or even the soundtrack of any previous movie in a similar genre, and end up with their own original scores (that just weren’t finished in time for those early trailers.

    Then again, this is Dreamworks, which uses pop culture references and fart jokes galore in place of actual humor, wacky poses in place of character movement animation, and parodies of other genres in place of plot. No wonder Shrek 3 has all those Oscar nomin… what? really? oh, never mind.

    That said, I’ll probably end up taking the boy to see it and being mildly amused.

  • ChrisWhat did you see in the trailer that appealed to you?

    I personally think the art direction, character design and character animation look great. The idea seems funny. I love Jack Black’s vocals. Clearly others disagree.

    The outpouring of hate over this trailer has shocked me. I don’t see what has everyone so upset. This is not Hoodwinked, the Wild or some Veggie Tales junk. I simply posted the trailer to share what I believe is a film to look out for. I’ll trust Floyd Norman’s informed opinion over half of the people posting here.

  • Ouch.

    Well, I like Floyd as well but based solely on the trailer, it does seem derivative, and from your post, it’s clear your focus is clearly not on the film but it’s visuals.

    I think hearing the word AWESOME from you took people by surprise. I’d be curious to hear what Amid thinks though I’m sure his sentiment is echoed somewhere above by one of the kajillion posts.

    BTW, I too am an animator and I too think it is VISUALLY appealing and exciting. I don’t think it is awesome though and I’m sure that peoples comments are directed at the story direction and not the looks. Some people are superficial I guess, I KNOW I AM :-)

  • BobT

    It looks like fun, out of all the dreamworks pictures that they’ve made, this one has me acually looking forward to it.

    I’ve read that there won’t be any popculture jokes (hurray) and that the kung fu fighting song won’t be in the film (I guess someone at the trailer department was just lazy).

    I also notice that they’re not hammering on any of the celebrity voices except for Jack Black.

    And too be honest, Dustin Hoffman as the shifu is a big name to be using as a voice actor, but he seems to work for the character, and he’s not the most obvious choice for that role. (I actually didn’t know it was him until I looked it up).

    So maybe they’re heading in the right direction with their choices for voice acting, at least it’s better than Bruce Willis as a rodent for no apparent reason.

    it’s not original and the jokes in the trailer are pretty corny for the most part, but I felt the same way about Surf’s up, and apparently that one was really good.

    I want to like this film, and maybe, just maybe, thís trailer has so few truly funny gags because it’s more of an action adventure that they’re trying to promote as a comedy.

    Anyway, I want to like this film, I’ll just wait and see how it turns out.

  • I’m kinda half wondering why animation studios put out trailers at all. They tend to make the movie seem worse than it really turns out to be. Some academic should do a paper on the effectiveness of trailers.

    That said, it looks like some very skilled animation going on, as it should be from DWA. I’ll be curious to see this even though martial arts-themed movies in general are not a plus for me.

    I’m not sure Jack Black sounds right for a panda bear. I wonder if he was cast when there were expectations he would turn out to be a bigger “star” than he is now?

  • Julian Carter

    Taken simply on art direction, character design and character animation … then I’ll have to agree with Jerry. They do look very good – that can’t be denied.

    What do you see funny about the idea, though? :) I echo some other posters’ sentiments that it seems a tad unoriginal. The setting might make it soar though. Have we yet had any CGI flicks set in China? The scenery alone might make it look fresh.

    In the end, however, I’d love to see more films go a different route, the way Meet the Robinsons had the courage to do.

  • T-dog’s guide to movie trailers. Any trailer beginning with the words “In a Land”, “In a World”, or a variation thereof indicates the movie will automatically be balls.

    Seriously, another family comedy with animal characters. Wheee. How many Smashmouth songs are in this one? Sorry, fellas…plenny of great animation and visuals here…we’ve established that they can make pretty movies. Now howzabout a pretty script?

  • robcat2075 – I’m not an academic, but as a former film distributor I can tell you that the trailer is the most effective film selling tool in the arsenal. It creates a buzz that generates discussions like this. And the studios would prefer that than being ignored in the marketplace.

  • Julian Carter

    I agree Jerry. The trailer is a very important means of publicity. However, that also means that it must be made very skilfully. It’s not the first time people have dismissed films because of crappy trailers. I believe it’s said that that’s why The Emperor’s New Groove performed so poorly at the box office.

    So there you have it. Good trailer: good response. Bad trailer: indefference.

  • Bobby D.

    Julian Carter says: “What do you see funny about the idea, though? :)”

    Can’t an idea just strike someone as funny, without having to give examples…? Kinda like the guy at movies, rolling his eyes and demanding to know in detail why you’re enjoying yourself so much.

  • I’m a little surprised with the negative response, too.
    I’m the last one to be enthusiastic about almost any major Hollywood animated film, but I think this looks pretty entertaining, or at least as entertaining as we can expect from mainstream animated fare these days.
    Feedback over at drawingboard.org has been mostly very positive, and they are a bloodthirsty bunch.
    Read their comments here: http://tinyurl.com/ys2wdf
    You’ll find thoughts from some of the exceptionally talented people who worked on the project.

  • Yes. An idea can strike someone as funny. For no logical reason other than a few people getting it. This trailer is not funny. And I’m pretty sure anyone who sees it and tries or even appreciates “the funny” can see that.

    aw well. i need to buy roses, great debate! happy Valentines y’all!

  • I was half kidding when I said I was “half wondering”, but think about it… every movie has a trailer out there but not every trailer creates success for it’s movie. Many trailers must be creating an “I’m not interested” decision in viewers.

    I’m sure trailers are highly focus-group tested, but there’s a sameness to so many trailers, especially for family films, that most of them are just coming across as varying shades of gray to the audience.

    And consider a movie like Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” which supposedly drew in gobs of people who normally would never be caught dead in a movie theater. I’d conclude that the trailer campaign was not significant in that movie’s success since most of the audience never saw the trailer.

  • The Obvious

    Altred Ego,

    Thank you.

  • Jeremy W.

    The trailer looks slick but everyone on earth knows DreamWorks Animation is DIC with money. This is their big chance to rise above their groin-kicking, fart joking rep. Let’s hope for their sake they can do it. Sure, it’ll make a ton of money. So did the first dozen “Police Academy” features. It would be great if it were also a genuinely decent animated film.

  • Some Guy

    I’m a huge Jack Black fan but I’m sick of celebrity voice overs. I thought Veggie Tales looked way better than this.

  • Phil Craven

    Hello, everyone. I worked on the story team for this movie, and while I agree with some of the above complaints about modern animated movies in general (dumb jokes, celebrity voices)–I really think a lot of you are misjudging this movie.

    I may be speaking out of turn, but I will try to answer a few of your grievances. The Kung Fu Fighting song and the Kill Bill song are pretty obvious, expected choices, but that doesn’t reflect the nature of the film itself. That was a marketing move meant for mass appeal–and I’m afraid that outside of our artistic bubble the rest of the population probably will be attracted by those elements. But again–that type of music doesn’t appear in the film, except maybe in the end credits (not sure what the final decision will be there.)

    As for the Shrek style of pop culture satire that DreamWorks is known for, this film purposely avoided using the same type of humor–and I’m quite pleased about that. Shrek is funny in his own way, and we strove to make KFP funny in its own way. If you pay atttention to the trailer, there are no pop culture jokes. Sure, Jack Black’s personality seems anachronistic in a mythical ancient China setting, but I really like the character. He is somewhat like Jack Black–which for me is a good thing. Above all the character has a love for kung fu–and that drives his actions more than a mere urge to make silly jokes.

    This is a “mainstream” family fun-time movie, and yes, there are a couple of groin hits and maybe a gastrointestinal gag somewhere in there… but I believe the underlying story, along with the amazing art (design, animation) will really grab people. Personally, I can’t wait to see the movie in a theater with a full audience–especially with kids. I read a few pages of kids’ comments after some test screenings, and it was really cool to see which characters they liked the most and why. Plus, their spelling is hilarious.

    Now, this movie is not an art house film or a Sundance festival revolutionary mind-blower… but it is fun, with a solid story, and gorgeous art. It looks beautiful.

    The trailer is decent, but the movie is better. I’m actually glad they didn’t give away much of the good stuff, even if it means a toned-down trailer. There’s no mention of the villain or the plot… beyond what you get from the title, which is “unlikely martial arts hero.” The trailer is basically conveying the concept, not the story.

    And hey, I’m personally glad I’ve learned to forgive films for whatever flaws I see in them. Otherwise I would hate some of my favorite movies. I say: watch it, enjoy what you can, learn from what you dislike, and strive to make one better than the last.

    Thanks for the post, Jerry! I hope people do enjoy this one.

  • Steve Gattuso

    Fortunately, I paid more attention in this trailer to the actual look of the film and the way the characters behaved than I did to the music. I’m perfectly willing to give it a try, and look forward to seeing it this Summer. I’m certain that Hans Zimmer’s work will be far above the cliche’d sounds from the trailer. Mr. Craven, “pretty obvious, expected choices,” is incorrect. More like “dreaded by movie audiences around the world.”

    Rule of thumb: if you have anything in your movie/trailer from this thread:



  • rodguen

    Yes, Phil. I couldn’t have said it better.
    You rock.

  • Survivor of the Campanile

    One could agree with Jerry that the look of the film is strong and appealing. The directors – particularly Mark Osborne, a talented CalArts grad (and on-off CalArts Instructor), are both strong and smart, and it appears that H.B. Lewis’s character designs are well realized in the HP platform. How it is as a film cannot be accurately judged by the trailer, and to think that it can is patently absurd. If that were true then “Hook” would have been the greatest film of the late 20th century.

    But in regards to the DreamWorks bashing, let the record show that no other studio – even Disney – has so many “survivors” that have common horror stories to tell of the gilded cage that sprung up over on Flower Street in the 1990’s, and which has allegedly only gotten worse over the past ten years. Jeffrey offered a promised land, and for many people the feeling is that he’s been wandering a creative desert for ten years. In that time the studio has brought forth one strong film -“Prince of Egypt” – and one Oscar Winning snark-fest that proved to be an evergreen franchise. In the interim, animators and designers repeatedly allege encounters with the wrath of hateful and spiteful producers and over-eager production managers with no previous experience in animation (there is a story told by many ex-DreamWorkers, that at one time in the 90’s the Production Managers got together in a secret meeting and “graded” artists on a letter scale – A to F – and provided this assessment to the President of the division and to producers, who used it as a guide when it came time for cutbacks…who got A’s and who got F’s would floor anyone in this industry.) A lot of promises were made to artists, and a lot of promise held out theoretically speaking for the studio and its vision, that simply never manifested. No amount of free food can make up for being treated badly by people with no title but lots of access to better parking.

    Someone once describe Jeffrey’s style of management at Wagon Wheel vs Bicycle Wheel – all spokes lead to the center, but none of them ever cross each other. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, that the result could be everybody trying to please Jeffrey, since he’s at the center of all choices? That he appears to be making the same film – over, and over, and over – is not for lack of gifted artists or the rare good producer who passes through DreamWorks trying to get Jeffrey to take a different tact. But it’s not easy when you have executives who are said to belittle artists – for instance, take the oft repeated and corroborated story of the Brizzi brothers giving up and storming out when their storyboards for the ill-fated “Moby Dick” – drawn in the inimitable Brizzi style, showing the intensity and drama of the whalers with grim faces and fury in their tossing of harpoons – were met with comments like “They’re so angry…they should be smiling, they enjoy their job, don’t they?” Screenwriters and agents will tell you that Jeffrey’s best notes to screenwriters are along the lines of “What is this shit?” and “Duh”.

    Such nightmarish treatment of talent results in the swiftly promoted sycophants and artist-hating hacks who keep things going down the same path, film after film after film. DreamWorks does not suffer this fate alone, but it appears to be plagued by more of it than any other studio. Whether it’s their own bad taste, or whether they are echoing Jeffrey’s taste and approach, the result is that every film appears to be falling back on the same shtick. You hear it all the time from people who have left DreamWorks, their spirit crushed: great ideas die quick deaths, as do too many good artistic minds.

    Hopefully “Kung Fu Panda” broke or will break the pattern. The only way to tell is to go see it.

  • Dav-Odd

    Seems like a lot of commenters have focused on the funny-rating of the acting in this movie, maybe subconsciously comparing it to their ideal of Looney Toons or something else, and finding it wanting. The slickness of the visuals works. Good enough for kids. But sophisticated cartoon-goers (and those same kids, 5 – 10 years later) will always bristle at overly slick dialogue and acting.

    E.G.: The panda’s clumsiness is not actually clumsy, is it? He’s too bouncy to be heavy. No caricature of lethargy. It’s self-defeating. Everything is paced the same way: Fast. He should look as if nothing will get him to budge. But he moves his bulk around in a supernatural way right from the start. It doesn’t work, and it’s an unfortunate outcome of the tech-driven movie, the consciousness of faster = better, and of the lack of depth in Mr. Black’s acting.

    It is pretty though….No one seems to dispute that.

  • Phil Craven

    Mr. Gattuso, I meant “obvious and expected” in the most pejorative sense… ;)

    And Mr. Campanile Survivor, I’m not sure who H.B. Lewis is, but all the characters in KFP were designed by the talented DreamWorks veteran and former animator Nicolas Marlet. (It’s awesome that a DW movie finally has 3D characters as beautiful as the stylish 2D designs.)

  • uh, sorry Jerry, this movie to me looks not that good. the setting is just isn’t intresting to me. It could make a culture trend along with the upcoming Olympics.

    besides the setting, I believe that Viacom chose Jack Black (who plays the Panda) as the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards host to promote their upcoming animated film, which is right in this post. KCA today, to some, is remiscent of the reason Linus the Lionhearted was created. I read on a Wikipedia entry that someone tried to sue Nickelodeon for KCA being a long commericial for upcoming movies, junk food, and Nickelodeon shows.

    I once felt that Jack Black was old hat after I forgot about Nacho Libre (a 2006 Nickelodeon/Paramount movie).

    While I do like other studios’ cartoons- it would give me a smile if Dreamworks Animation remade a familar George Pal Puppetoon or a Famous Noveltoon into a feature film, while all of the other animation fans groan and moan at this idea.

  • Campanile Survivor

    That’s “MS Campanile Surivior” to you, Phil. *wink*

    Be careful, young Craven, not to worship to much at one alter, for while Master Marlet is truly great and wise (and cute and sweet and funny as all get out) there are many others influencing your work, including H.B. “Buck” Lewis who shares character design credit on the film for good reason. Shame on you for not knowing of his name and his work, for it has been all around you ever since you first were hired. For a reminder, you can see some of Buck’s design work on KFP and other SKG projects here:


    Pay attention! SCAD taught you well, young Craven, and there is much to admire about your fine talent. But time will teach you that the source is never singular, and nothing in animation ever belongs to just one person (unless you work at DreamWorks, in which case everything is Jeffrey’s idea, even when it’s not…so get used to it.)

  • This looks very dull aside from some nice character designs, and I didn’t have my hopes up due to Bee Movie being so awful. Dreamworks needs to stop churning out a movie every year and take their time on each one.

  • rodguen

    Campanile Survivor>> I don’t know who you are, but you sound quite patronizing towards Phil, who’s talent and intelligence made the film better every day.

    As for Buck’s designs, well…i was on the show doing designs too, at the very beginning (2003), with Olivier Malric, Christophe Lautrette, and as mentioned, Nicolas Marlet. You have to be aware that Buck only worked for a very limited time on the show, and that the characters came to life thanks to the people named above only.

  • Mark McDermott

    Obviously, I’m no pro, just a geeky cartoon fanboy. But I greatly appreciate seeing some of the people who worked on the picture come on this thread to defend their project. In earlier times, everyone involved in a production would have to stay behind their non-disclosure agreements and say nothing in their own defense while the front office bean counters take all the credit for a film’s success or blame everyone on the production staff for its failure.

    That said, there are just too many markers on the trailer and the premise of the movie that scream out “typical Dreamworks,” mostly celebrity voices and character design that works best on a Happy Meal box. And a lot of the spleen directed at Dreamworks (and to a lesser extent Disney and Pixar), is how many things we buy at the store are going to have KFP plastered all over them.

    But I do detect that they haven’t tried so hard to make the character look like its celebrity voicer that it becomes hideous –see B. Barry or the hideous Will Smith character in “Shark Tale.” And while obvious, it is kinda cute to have the other dojo characters anthropomorphize the kung fu fighting styles. Is it too derivative of other kung fu movie plots? Well do we know a single thing about Shaolin Kung Fu besides what we’ve seen in the movies?

    I can be pretty sure that the pop tunes in the trailer were selected to instantly key the viewers in to what the film is about, and the actual feature will have some decent soundtrack which, of course, hasn’t been finished right now. I can’t be too angry at any movie that cherry picks “Kung Fu Fighting.” Not on this weekend of maximum saturation for “College Road Trip,” which tries to signal us that Martin Lawrence is fun-ny by needle-dropping “Miserilou” and “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That.”

    Since hanging around this site, I can be more appreciative of artists who try to add some distinctive touches to a lesser product. Like one of the 60’s Speedy Gonzales shorts on the previous Looney Tunes box: someone still took the time to have Speedy’s whiskers twitch along with his mouth movements when taunting Sylvester.

    And in spite of my practiced cynicism, I still try to find one part of a story that could redeem it for me. After all, I’m the guy who found something to like in the storyline of “Happily N’Ever After.” Doesn’t mean I’m letting it in my collection, though.
    But if my boy wants to see “KFP,” I’m game.

  • Chuck R.

    It’s a shame that Jerry’s attempt to promote something he feels is nice has been thwarted by biased comments that aren’t giving the film a fair shake. Yes, the signs of business as usual are there, but this film looks really really nice.

    Thanks to all the Dreamworks folks for writing in, and please keep pushing on Nicolas Marlet and other artists over there to get blogs up! I bought “The Art of Monsters Inc.” years ago, and the Marlet designs alone justify the expense —I’d love to see more. If anyone at Dreamworks is listening: get some of this great artwork on the goodies section of the DVD.

  • Last lash on this horse: for all our lowered expectations, it’s a concept that could pay off. Unlike such DOA pitches as “Whoopi Goldberg IS Babe Ruth’s bat!”

  • Campanile Survivor

    Rod and Phil,
    I did not mean to condescend, not at all. I did mean to say that it seems wrong for any artist – and a younger artist in particular, more to the point a talented story artist like Phil – to ignore the contribution of someone of Buck’s stature. I believe it’s a very dangerous thing to get too worshipful of just one contributor within the team as if they defined a look all alone. Consider this, Rod, what if Chris Sanders or Jenny were held out as the standard bearers for the styling of current day femme fatales in animation? What if this flew about on a well read site like The Brew, ignoring your own obviously extraordinary and ever-so appealing femmes? I’d call that unfair and rude, to not take note of what you do as well and (IMHO) frequently better than others who may be more popular or more accomplished in years.
    I’m clearly a fan of Buck, and so maybe I’m just a pot calling out the kettle here. I get that. But I think we’re a little bit in trouble when we ignore one person over another. That’s why I found ignoring Buck’s work in this thread to be symbolic of a larger problem: When an artist has influenced a lot of films and still goes unmentioned, then I think something should be said. And as far as his influence on KFP, in spite of the brevity of his time on the project, I don’t know how you could ignore it, and I’m willing to bet that you’d find the Directors eagerly acknowledging his contribution, and anyone with a good critical eye and perspective would see that it’s obvious how much he influenced the film when you look at his work and the final models. Here’s someone who has paid his dues, who deserves the respect he enjoys among his peers, and has earned his status. Eventually, anyone else who works as long and as hard will deserve their status as well. If saying so offended you or Phil, two of his colleagues who will one day be equally as widely admired, I hope, then I am genuinely sorry.

  • Phil C

    Hi Survivor–
    Thanks for your thoughtfully written response. I totally agree and understand that a film cannot be credited to one person in any regard–not even in character design.I don’t think I sounded “worshipful” of Nico. I was just crediting him for what I still believe to be the main source of our designs. Of course they were influenced by other artists along the way, but I have to be honest in saying that while Buck is a great artist–I know his work, thanks for the refresher via link–he did not design the characters to the extent that Nico should receive credit for. Buck was on the show before I started, nearly 4 years ago now, and I did indeed see his art, and how it played a part in influencing the look of the characters–just as several different concept artists’ and even storyboard artists’ work helped to shape the eventual look of the film. I totally support your defense of the collaborative nature of our medium, and I’m sorry if I sounded too narrow-minded in my admiration of any particular artist. I was just responding to a post that did not mention Nico at all. I don’t even know him very well–except through his KFP work, which I wanted to acknowledge.

    I also thank you for your kind words about my work and potential for the future… If I get near the level of Buck or Nico or Rodolphe I will be doing very, very well.

    Let’s hope KFP is a success, and maybe does a little to rejuvenate the reputation of DW… I’m proud of the film, and all the artists who worked on it. (There are a lot.)

  • Survivor of Campanile

    Hey Phil,
    To be honest I was pretty narrowmindedly praising Buck ahead of others, so pot kettle etc and so on.
    Wow…have you really only been there for three plus years? See, you are already a fixture. LOL
    I hope KFP will be a great success. I don’t much care for the dogma of DW or a few of the senior non-artist types, but I have a LOT of respect for so, so, so many of the artists.
    As I said in my original post, there just isn’t any sense in trying to judge a film by its trailers. It is a foolish way to decide if a film is going to be good or bad. And I hope KFP is judged without being compared to “that” film (the one that I wish didn’t define DW :-{
    Hang in there babe. It won’t be long before you’re doing “very, very well” Have fun on HTRAD

  • First of all, I would like to say that I think Kung Fu Panda looks promising. As as been mentioned several times, the visuals in the trailer are great and the premise has comedy potential. None of the gags in the trailer made me laugh, but I’m willing to assume that it has a good chance of being hilarious.

    But what I would actually like to comment on is Jerry Beck’s remark quite a few posts ago, in which he said that this movie wasn’t “Hoodwinked, The Wild or some Veggie Tales junk”. I almost always agree with you, Jerry, but I simply cannot understand the Veggie Tales’ inclusion in your comment.

    I haven’t seen the new “Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” movie, but every other Veggie Tales film I’ve seen has been great. The character designs and animation are phenomenal, and the Big Idea team are some of the few animators that have effectively brought classic cartoony animation into CGI. And they are always delightfully nonsensical and unrelentlessly silly. Just watch some of the Silly Songs with Larry to find out what I mean (some of my favorites are “Because it’s Christmas”, “Song of the Cebu”, “Endangered Love”, “His Cheeseburger”, “Belly Button” and “Yodeling Veterinarian of the Alps”, all of which can be seen on Youtube). And the retelling of the Bible stories is always done effectively. My favorite is probably “King George and the Ducky”, which had the courage to cartoon-ify a story like David and Bathsheba. There are always good morals in there, but they aren’t crammed down your throat like they are in so many other Christian videos. And I also feel the need to mention the first Veggie Tales feature film, “Jonah”, is one of the best non-Pixar CG movies ever. It truly is funny and well-animated, and if you don’t believe me, you can read the description of it in the Animated Movie Guide. I simply cannot agree that Veggie Tales is junk.

    All that said, I don’t get why the Veggie Tales are so often regarded as pure kiddie fodder. Cartoon Brew has not reviewed the new movie, and the only mention has been Amid’s dismissive comment when he was discussing Persepolis. Do the veggies deserve this kind of treatment? I know this is veering off of the subject, but I think it needs to be said. Just watch “Jonah” and see if a smile doesn’t crack on your lips. It’s not Finding Nemo, but it’s a very good movie.

    Am I the only one who feels this way? If there is any good argument against these cartoons, I’d love to hear it because I simply don’t see any fault.

  • Some Guy

    >Am I the only one who feels this way? If there is any good argument against these cartoons, I’d love to hear it because I simply don’t see any fault.

    I am inclined to agree. The cartoons are some of thoe most popular in the USA and Canada, they reach a huge auidence, they’re bouncy, fun, and silly, with greta music, but they’re ignored. I know I still know the Waterbufallo song from when I was a kid.

  • rachel

    for all the naysayers out there, check out http://characterdesign.blogspot.com/ for 20 absolutely gorgeous photos from the movie (you have to scroll down a few posts). I really think this is going to be a great-looking film.

    I just found the character design blog today and it’s pretty cool in general–right now they’re doing a series of posts called “from concept to final,” wherein they document the evolution of well-known animated characters (Ursula, Pongo, etc) from original concept to finished design.

  • psychidellic_aerosmith

    i really love animated movies. i think dreamworks chose a filipino artist to sing this movie’s theme song. nice. i think he’s great.