j’s review published on Letterboxd:
Best of all time. Not nadir of the medium. Holy incarnate of media. Top tier standard of storytelling. Apogee of creativity. Grace of invention. Remnant of genuity. Highest point of imagination. Top barrel of innovation. High of highs. God among gods. PEAK fiction. Greatest animated film/trilogy of all time to be honest. No other movie brings me as much serotonin as Kung Fu Panda does. I have so much love for this movie it is insane.
The plot and storyline is perfect for a tale of perseverance and self acceptance. We the viewer get to watch Po on his journey to become the dragon warrior and defeat Tai Lung. A constant theme in all the kung fu panda movies is the circle of hatred and learning to love yourself, and if that isn’t perfectly displayed through this movie I have many questions for you. From the son of a humble noodle chef, to being ostracized and mocked by your heroes, Po had to face a lot to get to where he is. He manages to push through all of this and never gives up despite the humiliation he faces. All it took was someone who believed in him and he blossomed into a kung fu warrior.
The movie breaks its cycle of hatred when Po accepts the dragon scroll for what it is. Like his fathers noodle recipe, the secret ingredient has been within him the entire time. He was the key to success and he never needed more. While Tai Lung caused fear and terror in the pursuit of materialistic happiness, Po simply accepted what was in front of him and that is the secret to a true warrior. It sets up the next movie’s use of inner peace as a central motif very well.
The humour in this movie still holds up very well and even upon rewatch I find it just as enjoyable years later. Great voice acting from Jack Black and the rest of the cast. The fight scenes and animation of it was wonderful and well choreographed and the film had an amazing and memorable climax.
As for my complaints with the film, I found the exposition and introduction to some of the characters kind of lacking and besides the intro scene it takes a while for everything to be put together. It leaves the rest of the film to feel rushed and the progression from Training to fighting Tai Lung was rather fast. I feel there could’ve been more heartfelt moments between the furious five and Po to where they actually accept him as a friend. They felt like side characters with little motivations until the second movie since this one focused so heavily on Po. I also felt the way they handled Oogways passing was quite sudden. It wasn’t a huge problem because i understand they needed him out of the movie so he wouldn’t be able to stop Tai Lung, but it was very obviously plot convenience.
That being said, this is the greatest movie of all time. All my complaints are futile and meaningless in the face of this majestic film. Feeling a mid 6.