Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review Rating:

Star Cast: Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Bryan Cranston

Director: Mike Mitchell

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: Same Kicks And Old Jokes For A Franchise That Might Have Run Its Course
Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review Out (Photo Credit – IMDb)

What’s Good: DreamWorks’ animation is still something to behold, and the different characters and settings are realized in beautiful detail.

What’s Bad: The film lacks energy and propelling momentum, making it feel more like an afterthought than an actual movie for theatrical release.

Loo Break: The middle of the film feels completely inconsequential, so you can take a break right there, and you won’t miss much.

Watch or Not?: Watch only if you are a hardcore Kung Fu Panda; if not, this movie is more ideal for tiny kids than a general audience.

Language: English

Available On: Theaters

Runtime: 94 Minutes.

User Rating:

Jack Black is still one of the hardest working people in the industry, and just after he broke box office records with his role as Bowser in the Super Marios Bros. Movie last year, he is now ready to go back to the character that has defined his voice-over work, Po, the Dragon Warrior, now Master of the Kung Fu secrets. However, has the character run out of his course, or is there still something for the character to learn on his long quest? It might be that Po is ready to go home once and for all.

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: Same Kicks And Old Jokes For A Franchise That Might Have Run Its Course
Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review Out (Photo Credit – IMDb)

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: Script Analysis

Kung Fu Panda might be one of the biggest success stories coming from DreamWorks Animation. Outside of their emblematic How to Train a Dragon series, the tale of the panda bear who decided to become a mighty kung fu warrior has captured the imagination of generations at this point. Three movies and several TV series later, the Kung Fu Panda franchise is in a very comfortable place, one that delivers exactly what people expect from it and nothing more.

Lately, the TV series has managed to become a perfect babysitting show for the younger generation, babies who need some level of engagement to spend time in the afternoons but not too much so that they become entirely invested in, and that has been the fate of the series since the release of the third film, eighth years ago. Kung Fu Panda 4 then feels like just an extension of the Kung Fu Panda TV series and doesn’t justify its existence as a theatrical release.

The film’s plot sees our favorite Master Dragon facing a new villain and maybe starting a new phase for him as a character while also passing the baton to the new generation of kung fu warriors. That all sounds pretty good, but the film doesn’t know how to make that premise compelling. Instead of creating a movie with a mighty arc, as they did with the second Puss in Boots film, Kung Fu Panda 4 is like a series of comedy sketches sewn together until they reach the expected 90-minute running time.

Yes, some of the jokes are pretty funny, and the animation is gorgeous, but you can feel that everything in the movie, including the story and the characters, is done by the numbers. The film just feels too derivative, and this makes the film just predictable. There are no surprises throughout the journey, and the exciting action sequences from previous films just don’t feel as crucial because no story or character development is robust enough to support them.

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: Star Performance

It feels strange to say that maybe Po’s adventures are over, even when the film is telling us they are not, and that perhaps we should be following a new character as our protagonist; it feels weird and also wrong, and also a waste of Jack Black’s talent as a performer. The actor does another great take on one of his most famous characters, and you can feel that for Black, this is not a paycheck; he truly loves the character and what it represents. Sadly, the quality of the story is just not up to par with his efforts as an artist, and in the end, the movie feels like a weak end of the line for Po.

Meanwhile, Awkwafina does what she does best, and she plays once again another cute and funny sidekick with its own arc, but the writing fails her just like it fails Black, and her character, Zhen, just ends up being entirely forgettable. Viola Davis fairs better as The Chameleon, the film’s villain, and it is great to see Davis in a more relaxed comedic role; she deserves more chances to do comedy. The rest of the cast is just there; they don’t do a lousy job, but their character feels very much like background characters, so there is not much to talk about them.

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: Same Kicks And Old Jokes For A Franchise That Might Have Run Its Course
Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review Out (Photo Credit – IMDb)

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: Direction, Music

Previous Kung Fu Panda films might have felt like amazing adventures aimed at kids, but they were still adventures that felt epic in scope and high in stakes. However, Kung Fu Panda 4 feels very small in comparison, which is another reason why it feels more in line with the animated series than with the previous films. Scenes often devolved into comedy sketches, and there needs to be apparent pathos or gravitas to anything happening on screen. This makes the movie feel like it is not deserving of our time.

Some jokes are funny, and for the smaller family members, they might be enough to have a great time. Still, considering that the movie tries to deal with themes like getting older, it is weird that it needs to talk to the audience on several levels, which feels like a wasted opportunity. Hans Zimmer returns for the score, which is just fine; he is more focused on working on something like Dune than on a film like this one.

Kung Fu Panda 4 Movie Review: The Last Word

Kung Fu Panda 4 feels like treading water, a movie that should have dealt with serious subjects, considering the context of its premise and the audience that loves these films but chooses to aim only at very young kids. The jokes are funny, but this one has no straightforward continuous story, making it feel more like a television season reworked into a movie than a proper story that was always meant to be seen on the big screen.

Kung Fu Panda 4 Trailer

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases on 15th March 2024 in India.

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