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Kung Fu Panda - Preview

Kung Fu Panda

Preview by Jack Foley

KUNG Fu Panda is the latest animated romp to emerge from DreamWorks Animation, home to Shrek and Bee Movie, and features the voice of Jack Black as Po the Panda, a lowly noodle restaurant waiter and kung fu fanatic whose shape doesn’t exactly lend itself to kung fu fighting.

In fact, Po’s defining characteristic appears to be that he is the laziest of all the animals in ancient China. And that’s a big problem because powerful enemies are at the gates, and all Hopes have been pinned on a prophesy naming Po as the “Chosen One” to save the day.

Alas, a group of martial arts masters are going to need a black belt in patience if they are going to turn this slacker panda into a kung fu fighter before it’s too late.

IndieLondon caught an early glimpse of some preview footage from Kung Fu Panda a couple of weeks ago and we have to say, the results look impressive.

Visually, the film looks stunning (as we have come to expect from animation of late), with plenty of martial arts sequences to keep things lively. But the humour was also spot on, with several laugh out loud moments to savour – such as early training sequences involving Black’s panda.

Strong, too, is the voice cast, which is packed with familiar faces (erm, voices!). Aside from Black, Dustin Hoffman plays wise mentor Shifu and is clearly having a blast; Ian McShane plays arch-villain Tai Lung (whose escape from captivity provided one of several spectacular sequences), while the likes of Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan lend their voices to various other kung fu counterparts.

Introducing the various clips, Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, spoke of the painstaking work that had gone into making the film, as well as the attention to detail on everything from panda fur to background effects. He also seemed very excited by the film’s box office potential and hinted at the possibility of turning it into a franchise.

The film is directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne and produced by Melissa Cobb from an idea that was originally conceived by Michael Lachance, a DreamWorks Animation executive.

Kung Fu Panda opens on July 4, 2008. Watch the trailer or view early photos