Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda ★★★★½

Unremarkable futureless underdog turns out to be the one foretold in ancient prophecy and must under go a training montage and learn to believe in himself to win the championships... I mean go the distance... no wait, overthrow the school bully... damn it, defeat the evil kung fu master! There, the last one.

It's Rocky, it's The Mighty Ducks, it's Police Academy 3: Back in Training and it's every other 70's Kung Fu flick. And it is good.

I put off watching this movie for so long, fearing it would be a pop-culture laden, cliché filled, too-edgy-for-school mess like so many of Dreamworks animated movies are. And I was wrong to have done so, I judged this book by it's Jack Black cover.

The animation is quick, stylish and easy to follow. The humour is well placed, appropriate and the fat jokes are slim (har har). The music (besides the end credits) contains no pop music and reflects the period it is set in. The sound design is spot on and I love any scene with the ducks, just to hear their feet slapping about.

And most importantly (hence the new paragraph) the action is superb. Not only is there no shaky cam to be found (and for 2008 that is a minor miracle), it is exceptionally choreographed. Making full use of the animal cast to invent new and unique ways of fighting. It's a sight to behold.

Now the story has been told a thousand times before and the characters themselves are pretty basic archetypes, but with such joy and complete absence of meanness, that it's effortlessly enjoyable from beginning to end.

Also, the tough female character is neither a bitch nor a love interest. I really did assume the worst and think this movie was slapped together by feckless suits in a grey room when I first saw the trailers. I'm glad I was wrong. This movie is great.

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