Kung Fu Panda

“Skadoosh!”

I always refer to going to the cinema as “going to the pictures” or “going to the picture house”.  It’s a generational thing – before multiplexes on industrial estates, there were picture houses.  Proper theatres that had perhaps 3 screens.  Before the film came on there would be an advert for the chippy across the road.  Your bum would be numb before the trailers finished.  That sort of thing.

In Westwood Village, next to Beverly Hills in L.A., there are several picture houses.  These picture houses have ornate fronts with lots of lights.  Think of the picture house in Back to the Future and you’re on the right track. 

Most of these picture houses have premieres.  In particular the Fox theatre.  There’s a premiere there just about every week and the stars roll up in limos for the screening.  So, think of Will Smith shuffling uncomfortably in his seat because his bum went numb before the opening credits.

If it’s good enough for those guys, it’s good enough for me.

I already had high hopes for Kung Fu Panda.  I like Jack Black and I like talking CGI animals, so it was sure to be a winner…and it was…sort of.

There’s a really heavy reliance on Jack Black to be, well, Jack Black.  I often wondered how much of Jackie Chan, David Cross, Angelina Jolie and Seth Rogen’s lines ended up on the cutting room floor.  Perhaps the character interaction between Black (useless at Kung Fu Panda) and the others (highly skilled martial artists) would have slowed the pace.  But it was the glimpses of it that left me wanting more, rather than the extensive action scenes.

The actions scenes were a bit of a blur, so it seemed appropriate that they were periodically slowed down to show you that it wasn’t just a cloud of dust with the odd fist or leg sticking out.  If anything, it was the action sequences that I found a little tiresome.  So the characters ping off walls and thump and kick each other, but, other than watching it take place, what does it give you?  The humour and, in particular, the attention to detail of Black’s character, so it mimics all of his facial expressions were the real plus points and, for me, gave me much more as an audience member.

On the whole though, it was good clean fun.  Entertainment for kids and adults and it had enough laughs in it to have me chortling to myself.

If you saw the disappointing Over the Hedge and expect better, then this is the movie to restore your faith in the whole CGI thing.  It’s a simple movie that follows a simple narrative and doesn’t try to be too clever for it’s own good.

I even forgot about my bum going numb halfway through.

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