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Brooklyn Anson
Brooklyn Anson

I love photography. It is something I am passionate about even though I am just learning and improving. I am not afraid to get on the ground in order to get a good angle. The most important thing I learned...

Kung Fu Panda 4: Disappointment

Photos: Dreamworks
Photos: Dreamworks

Like many high schoolers, the Kung Fu Panda films were a large part of my mid-childhood entertainment. They were a small part of my younger years, and I came to appreciate the films in my teens. I consider the first three films quite good and see “Kung Fu Panda 2” as a masterpiece. 

The series took an eight-year hiatus after the third movie. When the fourth film was announced, I had mixed expectations. I went into the theater expecting a mediocre or even bad movie; it delivered on that expectation.. 

 “Kung Fu Panda 4” boasts incredible animation, a star-studded cast, and a letdown of a cinematic experience. With pacing issues of a slow-feeling first and second act followed by a lightspeed third act causing the film to fail on multiple levels, the overall production fell short of making me care about the story. 

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Speaking of the story, Po, the “Dragon Warrior,” must choose a replacement before he ascends to become spiritual leader of the valley. This is all thrown for a loop when a thief fox named Zhen breaks into the temple. After she is detained, she warns Po about a seemingly grave threat.

The newest antagonist of the series, the Chameleon, never develops the established force of previous villains. She can shapeshift to look like anyone, including those previous villains. Unfortunately, she does not possess their kung fu abilities. To fix this, she brings the old villains back from the dead in an attempt to steal their skills. Even then, she isn’t a problem for Po to defeat.

 There really are no stakes in the film other than that there is a villain. The Chameleon’s one show of power before the third act climax is her intimidation of crime lords by pushing them down stairs. I do not feel any danger behind the Chameleon.

The humor of the series was something that consistently stuck with me for the first three films, but to be frank, this fourth iteration of the franchise just isn’t funny. From my seat in the theater, I was not moved to laughter by any of the comedic attempts. 

The character development also feels bland: Po the panda is still a surprisingly competent yet naive idiot, Shifu the red panda is still a wise and witty old man, and Po’s fathers, Ping and Li, are still just emotional support for Po. The new companion to Po, Zhen the corsac fox, is the only character with any real arc, which is still minimal. She goes from a thief who can’t be trusted to a thief who is just a little mischievous.

 My other gripe with Zhen is her voice actress, Akwafina, who is generally found by more mature audience members to be annoying. All excuses of it being a kids movie aside, “Kung Fu Panda 4” is underwhelming at best and a snorefest at worst.

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Gabe Duhs
Gabe Duhs, Staff Reporter
Hi! I'm a junior here at South and I'm excited to start my first year of working on web and magazine. I'm a big fan of gaming and movies and will write about much of the new stuff on the entertainment scene.
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