Yezen’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is one of my childhood favorites that keeps getting better and better the more I watch it. Obviously, the nostalgia helps, but I keep finding newer aspects to appreciate about it such as the cleverness and subtleties in the writing, use of visuals, and music.
The fight sequences are arguably the best in any animated film. Not just in its creativity and energetic presentation, but also in its emotional weight and connections to the characters’ individual arcs. But as perfect as the fight scenes are, they aren’t what I think of when I think of this movie. I think of the brilliantly executed, clever, and powerful scenes between characters and their dynamics. The sheer perfection of “Oogway Ascends” cannot be understated, from the beautiful animation to the surprisingly intelligent dialogue to the MIND NUMBING score.
Similar to The Lion King, I have such a strong emotional connection to the music here and how heavy of a weight it carries throughout the entire film. Honestly one of my favorite film scores; Hans Zimmer and John Powell really knocked it out of the park with this one. I cannot imagine this movie existing at all without its music.
The character work in this movie is just INSANE. Oogway has the best dialogue with so many clever quotes. Tai Lung is such a tragic villain, and this is simply found in how he’s written as a character. Some of my favorite moments are between Shifu and Po, with both of them essentially teaching each other how to live up to their fullest potentials. Their arcs are by far the best in the movie. While the other side characters don’t have much to do, at least they aren’t annoying or useless. It also helps that the movie is HILARIOUS.
The film also packs emotionally intelligent messages and extremely mature moments, especially for a kid’s film. The fact that a scene like “Oogway Ascends” or the subtlety in “There is no secret ingredient” exists in an animated kids movie about a panda learning Kung Fu is just extraordinary.
It keeps finding more ways to surprise me upon every rewatch. For me, the gold standard for animated kids movies is and will always be The Lion King, but I think I might like this a bit more. Easily my favorite Dreamworks movie and probably my favorite animated movie ever. LOVE IT.