Date: Saturday January 30 2016
Place: Pocono Movieplex
Party: 3 (my mom, sister and I)
Directors: Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Po- Jack Black
Li- Bryan Cranston
Mei-Mei- Kate Hudson
Shifu- Dustin Hoffman
Kai- JK Simmons
Tigress- Angelina Jolie
Mantis- Seth Rogen
Crane- David Cross
Viper- Lucy Liu
Monkey- Jackie Chan
Mr. Ping- James Hong
Oogway- Randall Duk Kim
Duration: 95 minutes (+3 trailers)
Opening Remarks and Coming Attractions:
Considering this was the first kid's movie of the year, I thought the theater would be fuller than it was. Maybe the cold weather kept everyone away or they all went to the earlier 3D showing. There were maybe half a dozen other people in the theater with us. The majority sat behind us, but in the front row was a grandma and granddaughter who was maybe three. My mom said she giggled at a lot of the same parts we did. I was a little too into the movie to notice.
Scrat appeared in the first trailer, so I thought he was maybe getting his own movie. [I mean, the Minions got their own movie and it did really well...] Instead, it was another "Ice Age" sequel... why do we need another "Ice Age" movie? Honestly?
The first one was great, but the ones that followed... not quite as much. In the last one, Diego got a love interest in Shira, so I hope there's a story about them having a litter of kittens or something :P That's just me.
The second was for "Finding Dory." The teaser has her "sleep-swimming," something Marlin dismisses as a one-time thing. Then in a later part of it, she's talking about remembering something or needing to find her family. Either way, we're probably going to see it.
We saw "Finding Nemo" when it came out- great movie.
Ellen had been clamoring for YEARS for a "Finding Nemo" sequel, so I'm really hoping it's worth the wait.
Then we had the teaser trailer- again- for "The Secret Life of Pets."
Please tell me that there's a legit storyline for this movie. As funny as the trailer is, the movie's only as good as the plot it tells.
The second movie in the franchise came out a couple years ago. My sister and I saw it in 3D and I thought it was even better than the original. Although it'd been ages since I'd seen it, but I remembered enjoying it.
I believe it came out in 2011, so with the years that went by, I was starting to worry that they weren't going to make another movie. Especially since the 2nd movie had a cliff-hanger ending that showed a village full of pandas, they couldn't have not explored that.
So the synopsis is something like this:
Po's teacher, ShiFu, has decided to retire and Po is to take over for him as teacher of Kung Fu. Something he doesn't believe he has a talent for. And around this time, it seems like Po's having an existential crisis-- doesn't really know who he is or what it really means to be the Dragon Warrior. Luckily, the plot comes in and helps snap him out of this temporary funk.
Kai, an old friend of ShiFu's teacher Oogway, is on a mission to take the Chi of all the Kung Fu masters and rule the world. (After JK Simmons did "Whiplash," it's no surprise he went on to play another great villain).
And Po's father, who received a "message from the universe," comes to the village looking for him. The two reunite and they go to the secret mountain village of pandas where Po must learn what it is to BE a Panda.
Visually, it was stunning and exhilarating. A couple minutes in, I was regretting that we didn't see it in 3D because it could have been even more amazing than it was.
Like much of this series, it's very straightforward. Unlike most Disney and Pixar movies, it relies more on adventure and comedy than emotion. There aren't many sad points or scary dramatic moments. Yet Po is able to grow as a character while not losing what made him lovable in the first place. So I guess you could say Kung Fu Panda is more kid-friendly.
Some people might want to get more out of movies... but every now and then, it's nice to have something like this where you come in knowing what to expect and there's this safety net in place that assures you everything will turn out all right in the end.
My advice: Don't come in expecting anything deep and just enjoy the ride.
And also bring your kids. They'll love it.
Other than the "kung fu" action and Kai being kind of intimidating (maybe not quite as much as the villainous peacock Gary Oldman played in the 2nd installment of the series), I don't get why this had to get a PG rating. It could have passed for G easily.
All three of us had a lot of fun with this one. Lots of funny moments, great visuals, and of course, we overdosed on the cuteness of the pandas :P All of them had their unique personalities.
Then with the introduction of Po's biological father, there's obviously a little jealousy being felt by Po's adoptive father, Mr. Ping. That's kind of funny to watch.
And Dustin Hoffman as Shifu, he has his moments ;) it's been a while since I've seen the previous movies in the series, but I don't remember him having as funny a moment than he had giving his final lesson- the art of the "dramatic exit."