has an average rating of 7.9 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
are abundant and most all in HD
– 92 minutes
– DreamWorks (Paramount)
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
The Movie Itself is directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, and written by Jonathan Aibel (screenplay), Glenn Berger (screenplay), Ethan Reiff (story), and Cyrus Voris (story). The movie revolves around Po (voiced by Jack Black), a Panda working for his father, Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong), in the family noodle shop. His father, as many parents do, insists that Po follow in his footsteps and someday take over the family business; however, Po has much higher ambitions, though seeming practically unobtainable, to be a warrior fighting along side of the “Furious Five”. The “Furious Five” are China’s most highly regarded warriors, trained to defend all from the evil Tai Lung (voiced by Ian McShane).
After experiencing a dream one night of being the fortune-seeked “Dragon Warrrior”, which is coincidentally his most desired reality, Po awakes to his father’s calls for his assistance in the noodle shop. Though he passively tries to explain to his father how he wants to be a warrior, and not a noodle-cook, Po only hears from his father how he is one of the “noodle-folk”, and that “broth runs deep within his veins”. Randomly, there is a summoning of the village’s people to no greater a cause than to find the “Dragon Warrior”. As Po attempts desperately to attend this seeking, dragging along his noodle-cart, all of his efforts to enter the crowd land him in a bizarre hi-jinx which rockets him into the air, and at the feet of Master Oogway (voiced by Randall Duk Kim). Oogway sees this as a sign from the universe, and declares his training to begin immediately with Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman).
Shifu has his reasons to question the authenticity of Po being the “Dragon Warrior”, and he is not the only one with doubt. The “Furious Five”, Tigress, Monkey, Viper, Crane, and Mantis (voiced by Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Lui, David Cross, and Seth Rogen, respectively), though partly concerned for the simple Panda’s well-being in the vigorous training, also see through to Po‘s thorough lack of martial arts experience. After much frustration with Po‘s attention span, Shifu discovers the best and most ridiculous way to train the Panda is with food; through which it becomes undeniable to him that Po‘s potential is equivalent to that of the foretold “Dragon Warrior”.
The entire purpose of seeking the “Dragon Warrior”, and preparing him is due to Tai Lung‘s escape from his prison of 1,000 guards. He was a remarkable student of Shifu‘s teachings, but bared much darkness in his heart, allowing his rage overtake him, and his actions. The core of Tai Lung‘s anger comes from the fact that in all of his conceit of possessing outstanding Kung Fu skills, his is not the destined “Dragon Warrior”, and will forever be forbidden from reading the “Dragon Scroll”, believed to contain all of the secrets of Kung Fu power. In all of his deep-seated greed and anger, Tai Lung‘s escape is merely the small part of his plan to obtain the scroll’s secrets; that is now under the possession of Po.
In closing, the movie is perfectly cast with its variety of actors voicing the characters. The actors are not only playing characters, but animals that symbolize specific traits in the idea of Chinese martial arts and mythology. From a personal perspective of practicing Kung Fu for a number of years in the past, the movie also has nice accuracy with it’s representations of the martial art, as each animal is not just a “warrior”, but a representation of a particular heightened combative skill; preventing the film from being misleading to children, who may take an interest in the past time after watching this. The film, which is aimed at the younger audience, seems set to inspire kids that their goals and ambitions can be tangible, even when no one listens or believes, earning a “4 Star Rating“.
Video Quality on this release is in 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc). First thing you’ll notice about “Kung Fu Panda” is it’s extremely vibrant color palette that makes for a visual treat throughout the film. With a black level as solid as ink, if you for example take the majority of our main character “Po” into consideration. Also take into consideration the extremely bright whites as well on the remainder of our main character and any other type of bright objects like fireworks or the light pink lotus blossoms. All of this has a perfect contrast balance and looks superb.
Every bit of detail present in the theatrical experience is clearly visible here. When I say every bit of detail, I mean all the way down to the hairs on the character’s faces or the texture to the cloth on their outfit during close-up scenes — which look remarkable, I might add. The beautiful scenery of China in CG animation makes for a beautiful backdrop to tell the story and get you into the culture. In regards to detail and realism, the different characters such as the panda, tiger, snake, duck, crane, preying mantis and monkey all look believable in their depictions and physical movements. Things are a bit “over the top” and what you’d expect from a cartoon at times but that’s just the film’s vibe. It’s artistic style of computer generated animation is truly a sight to behold — especially in Hi-Def. At times it’s right up there with Pixar films in my own personal opinion, and keep in mind that I have the utmost respect for Pixar that I have for DreamWorks.
I just can’t find anything to complain about here. This Hi-Def transfer looks amazing and holds no flaws what-so-ever, that I have found. Obviously no signs of DNR or Edge Enhancement or compression flaws like pixilation or artifacts present. It’s just “out of the park” in terms of video quality and is sure to put a smile on the face of those old and young . If you’ve been anticipating this release ever since you saw it earlier this year in theatrical run, you can rest assured that the film you saw has come to Blu-ray in a HD presentation that is “up to par” to say the very least. Folks DreamWorks does it again, they earn a perfect “5 Star Rating” overall for video quality on this Blu-ray Disc release.
By the way, I’ve decided to actually include uncompressed fullsize (digital master source) 1920 width images the studio has provided. These as I mentioned are uncompressed in the .PNG image file format. All browsers should be able to display this, just click on a thumbnail of the still from the film below for example to get a fullsize image. Let me know what you guys think of this option and if you’d like to see it included more often on titles of this magnitude — as long as the said Studio will provide me with the production stills.
Audio Quality on this release is in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround. While one would usually not expect a computer animated film such as this to hold impressive surround sound, I am happy to report this holds an excellent hi-resolution 5.1 experience on Blu-ray Disc. “Kung Fu Panda” has some excellent use of the rear channels and bass through your subwoofer. You’ll notice some 180 degree pans across the 5.1 soundscape used occasionally for massive sound effects. The film’s musical Score by Hans Zimmer and John Powell gets mixed into things extraordinarily well and sets a very unique vibe.
Dialogue is delivered very distinct throughout which is important in a film with a very talented voice cast such as this. I have to say hats off to the folks who worked on “Foley” (sound effects) for this computer animated feature. The sound effects are pretty intense and get you caught up in to the action at times, which is their job afterall. It’s great to see something like this have excellent sound because it makes for really nice “Demo Material” for a very large general audience. I was extremely impressed by this Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix which earns itself a very high “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus Materials are most all presented in High Definition video and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. Since the majority are in HD — I’ll be noting beside the runtimes to specify which features or featurettes that are in SD (Standard Definition) accordingly below.
The BD-Live feature on this release allows you to download Po‘s quotable word from the film, “skadoosh”, in a variety of foreign languages. This feature is called “Po Around the World“.
Another feature will be available via BD-Live (for a limited time) called “A Day in the Life: A Shaolin Monk in Training“.
- “Inside Kung Fu Panda” includes:
- “Po’s Power Play” includes:
- “Sounds and Moves Of Kung Fu Panda” includes:
- “Land Of The Panda” includes:
- “DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox” is a playlist of music videos from their other movies.
—”The Animator’s Corner” which is a Picture-In-Picture feature that uses Bonus View, requiring a “Profile 1.1” capable Blu-ray Disc Player.
—”Meet The Cast” (13 minutes) which interviews the actors as they discuss their character.
—”Pushing The Boundaries” (7 minutes) which interviews the animation department as they discuss their part in the production of this movie. This is a very insightful feature as the animators discuss issues with rigging, creating the details we see on the characters, such as their fur, and fluid movement for not just typical movements but martial arts movements.
—”Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas” (2 minutes) is narrated by Jack Black as he discusses the issue of Pandas being endangered.
—”Dragon Warrior Training Academy” is an interactive game allowing you to complete obstacles using your remote to gain the five abilities possessed by the “Furious Five”, balance, speed, agility, power, and precision.
—”Dumpling Shuffle” is a game in which you must follow a dumpling with your eyes as it is hidden under a bowl and shuffled amongst others, and select the bowl it is hidden under.
—”Learn To Draw” has a menu allowing you to select a character from the “Furious Five” and Po, to continue to a tutorial giving basic instructions of how to draw your favorite characters from the movie.
—Sound Design (4 minutes) interviews sound designer, and the sound editor, and also gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the creation of the Foley used in the film.
—”Kung Fu fighting Music Video By Cee-Lo” (4 minutes)
—”Learn The Panda Dance” (5 minutes) a step-by-step tutorial for the young audience of the film
—”Do You Kung Fu?” presents a menu for viewers to select one of the animal-styles of Kung Fu as it continues a tutorial of the basic stances, strikes, and brief forms of each style.
—”Mr. Ping’s Noodle House” (5 minutes) includes your host Alton Brown as he introduces head-chef from L.A.’s restaurant Mr. Chow, Danny Yip, who gives us an impressive demonstration of how soba noodles are made.
—”How To Use Chopsticks” (3 minutes) is a basic tutorial on how to use chopsticks and the etiquette that comes along with dining in Chinese culture.
—”Inside The Chinese Zodiac” presents you with a menu of years of birth, as for every 12 years in the Chinese Zodiac is represented by 12 different animals and their traits. This feature gives further insight to film’s use of the five animal styles of Kung Fu and the traits they represent.
—”Animals Of Kung Fu Panda” (6 minutes) gives viewers a brief history of the animals’ place in Chinese mythology and their traits used in combative skills.
—”What Fighting Style Are You?” is a questionnaire allowing you to pick answers that will calculate to the specific animal-style you are.
Overall, the bonus materials have a wide variety of things to offer, from behind the scenes looks at the making of the film, to features kids will enjoy. One thing I feel was lacking though is Digital Copy but I can respect that this is going to sell well on iTunes and various other digital download methods online. Everything else seems impressive and informative but some features seem a bit too aimed at the younger audience — leaving adults without children feeling a bit awkward or alienated. I understand it’s really a kids title, being PG and aiming towards the younger crowd but just like other computer animated film studios — they need to realize adults that actually like these films, see them in theaters and go on to buy them on home video as well. It’s not just soccer mom’s buying this for their kids, which I will admit is a large majority in terms of DVD sales but not on Blu-ray Disc. It’s mostly the late teens to twenties crowd buying this on Blu-ray to likely play it back on their PS3.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.