Kung Fu Panda 4

Kung Fu Panda 4 feels like a fitting chapter in the animated action-adventure franchise, even to those who may not be up to date with the sequels that followed the 2008 family hit.

As a seasoned and legendary Dragon Warrior, and separated from the rest of his fellow warriors from the Furious Five, Po (voiced by Jack Black) is encouraged by his mentor Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) to start looking for a mentee of his own.  Po is torn: he understands why the timing is right but, then again, why would he seek out an apprentice when being a Dragon Warrior is the only thing he’s been good at?  Tryouts are placed on hold, however, when an invasion by an elusive sorceress, known as The Chameleon (voiced by Viola Davis), poses a dangerous threat.  With the assistance of a shifty thief named Zhan (voiced by Awkwafina, a Jumanji: The Next Level reunion with Black), who also has intel on the villain, Po goes on another quest which may also require him to revisit his past.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is slickly choreographed, which includes some eye-catching flashes of stylized anime during combat.  These sequences still show loyalty to the culture and entertainment that consistently influences this series.  This latest sequel is a good-looking flick too, but animating so much of this story in dark and damp environments doesn’t show the full extent of the efforts by Dreamworks’ animators.

Families have been spoiled recently by Netflix with lavish adventures such as The Sea Beast and The Monkey King.  While Kung Fu Panda 4 may appear to be missing elements of surprise and suspense (a fairly transparent twist doesn’t help), the movie still engages the audience and leaves us wanting more adventures with Po and (hopefully) more of the original gang.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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