Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 4 is sweet, fun, and well executed

muloozi Daniel
muloozi Daniel

Lego Movie 2” director Mike Mitchell and co-directed by Stephanie Ma Stine, who worked on “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

The last three movies have largely stuck to the rural Valley of Peace, so the filmmakers change it up this time and take Po and Zhen to an urban environment, Juniper City, packed with busy animals, rickshaws, and bulls as police officers (watch for a hilarious bull-in-a-jade-shop joke).

As always, it’s the animators who are the real heroes here. From the thick fur on the pandas, to clay tiles smashing on roofs to rain splashing on stones, barroom brawls and petals wafting from cherry trees, this is a visual delight.

Creating The Chameleon — and her scary Komodo dragon guards — gives the animators a chance to show a tiny lizard metamorphosize into an elephant in a few seconds and they relish it. They also sometimes dip into different animation styles, giving a viewer a visual break.

There are some missteps, like a pelican character controlled by a fish in its mouth and three cute bunnies who appear adorable and yet are deeply psychotic. (“Violence makes my tummy tingle,” one says.) Plus, the teaming up again of Po’s dads, while welcome, is also sort of pointless here.

But, as Po would say, “Skadoosh!” The filmmaker have managed a very tricky assignment: Pave the way for a new franchise direction, find new ways to entertain us, remind us of lessons like “It’s never too late to do the right thing” and end the whole thing with the Black-led cover by Tenacious D of “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. Embrace the change.

“Kung Fu Panda 4,” is rated PG for “for mild violence, martial arts action, scary images and some mild rude humor.” Running time: 94 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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