Friday, June 20, 2008
*** SPOILER ALERT - THE STRENGTH THE PANDA NEEDED WAS INSIDE HIM ALL ALONG!! ***
A dazzling exploration of faith, politics and sexuality in China soon after the start of the Yuan Dynasty, KUNG FU PANDA makes the point that, maybe He is lost, maybe abducted, or maybe absconded, but God is certainly gone.
Self reliance is the central theme in Dreamwork's latest animated epic. Po, the titular panda (voiced by Jack Black) is chosen by a turtle as the Dragon Warrior and must look inside himself to find the strength to save his village from a villain at the gates.
In a sense Po is the literary descendent of HAMLET - charged with a duty that he both knows and feels is right, yet is unwilling to carry out.
Mr. Black is a bravely idiosyncratic actor whose extravagantly mannered Ignatio in NACHO LIBRE was much talked about. He brings a showy energy to the panda's vacillations, turning introversion into an extroverted activity that certainly commands the attention.
The characters (particularly Seth Rogen's Mantis and David Cross' Crane) are presented in such a way as to give us a good understanding of the complexities and the pain of their choices. We are given a rare glimpse, beyond the dialog among characters, to the inside of their minds - a look into the processes that are leading them to the choices they will end up making. These conflicts and the way they are presented are what make the drama so effective, and the comedy, which is plentiful, so necessary. Dustin Hoffman deserves special praise as some sort of rodent, his most believable role in a decade.
Ablaze with intellectual vigour, political passion and incendiary emotional energy, KUNG FU PANDA is a beautiful work of art that everyone should see.
at 8:41 p.m.