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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Don Reviews "Kung Fu Panda 4"

I am not sure if we’ve ever talked about this, but I spent many years studying martial arts, and I highly recommend it.  Besides the benefits of physical self-defense, there is so much more you can learn about the mental side.  One of the big lessons I took away was how to get through a situation using your mind without even one punch.  Don’t get me wrong: learning how to break bricks and use weapons is cool too, so you know I went into Kung Fu Panda 4 with expectations that were varied.  (Also remember how I feel about sequels and prequels.)


Mike Mitchell (Trolls) and Stephanie Stine (She-Ra & the Princesses of Power) direct this installment alongside the voice talents of Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, Bryan Cranston, James Hong and Ian McShane.  Po (Black) is keeping things in the Valley of Peace intact as the Dragon Warrior, carrying the Staff of Wisdom.  Shifu (Hoffman) tells him that he has to now took into finding a successor to be the new Dragon Warrior so he can take the final step in his journey to become Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace.  While he deals with this, he finds out about a threat by a new villain called “The Chameleon” (Davis), a shape shifter and sorceress who wants to access the Spirit Realm and take the abilities of the other warriors, some of which have dealt with Po before.  Po also befriends a fox named Zhen (Awkwafina) who has a shady past and claims can help Po deal with the Chameleon.


The animation is good overall, as to be expected from having backing from a big studio with a substantial budget.  I am constantly impressed in how far CGI animation has come, and here there were times I forgot the film was animated, which is a compliment.  The cast is also good from those returning to the addition of Davis and Awkwafina, who really enhanced the legacy of the series with how they brought their characters to life.  Awkwafina’s personality is perfect for the character of the sly fox while Davis was great in playing the cool tempered, but very evil sorceress.


Now to the big question that I always have to address with sequels and prequels: since this is the fourth installment, has this film been Ice Age-d?  I feel while the script here is good, it’s not as good as the original.  There is a good mix of comedy of message that kept me interested and is good for the entire family.  After watching it, I felt it did well for a sequel in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, but it was not so bad that I don’t think it should have been made.  All in all, I will recommend Kung Fu Panda 4 as a Saturday afternoon showing in the theaters.

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