sleepy’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm always a little blown away by just how great this film is. Kung Fu Panda is one of the very best computer animated films to not come from Pixar.
At its core, it is the classic unlikely hero tale that's been done many, many times before. But rarely is it pulled off as competently as done here. The pacing is pretty much perfect and it never dwells too long on any particular scene. This means that we are constantly pushing onto the next scene and plot point, never leaving any time for you to doze off.
The balance of drama, action and humour is nailed down to a tee. There's never too much of a focus on any of one of these at one time, always allowing for some quick antics amidst the dramatic scenes and the huge action set pieces. I should also mention that the film is genuinely funny and the comedic timing for the jokes is really intuitive.
The direction for the action sequences really makes the most of the stylish animation and it's some of the most satisfying action I've seen from any CG animation. It really packs a punch and doesn't feel overly cartoony taking inspiration from Hong Kong martial arts movies and Japanese anime. The general look of the film is also a cut above most, with some luscious backdrops and attractive visual design.
There's also some incredibly energetic voice work from Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Ian McShane, Angelina Jolie and the rest of the cast. I really enjoyed how they put a good amount of focus onto Hoffman's character, since as charming as Jack Black is, he can't change the fact that his character has been explored many times in the past in different films and other mediums. However one of the few things I wasn't a fan of with this film was the casting of Seth Rogen & David Cross as a couple of the side characters. I feel like they both have very distinct voices that take me out of the film whenever they speak and all I can hear is Rogen's "guh huh huh" laugh and Cross' Tobias Fünke voice.
So while it may be tackling an age old tale we've seen done in many other movies and entertainment mediums before, it pulls off the story near flawlessly. Predictable it may be, but it is incredibly fun to watch and exhumes joy the entirety of its runtime.