Blu-ray Review: Kung Fu Panda

Po (Jack Black) dreams of being a kung fu master but being an overweight, uncoordinated panda makes working in his father’s noodle restaurant seems more appropriate. One day the tortoise Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) has a vision that Tai Lung (Ian McShane), a kung fu master who went bad, will escape from prison so Oogway calls for a ceremony to select the Dragon Warrior, who legend says is to be a supreme kung fu master. The red panda Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) believes that one of the Furious Five [Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen) or Crane (David Cross)], whom he has trained, will be chosen. Due to a series of wacky events, Po ends up being selected as the Dragon Warrior.

The video is presented in 1080p and 2.35:1 ratio and the artwork looks absolutely stunning. This is the disc to impress people who are curious about upgrading to Blu-ray. Just make sure they are prepared to have their eyes pop and their jaws drop. The colors are amazingly vibrant and the detail is extremely impressive from the animals’ fur and feathers to textures of objects that are inconsequential to the movie. The opening sequence has a great style all its own. It’s sad but true that this digital-to-digital transfer weakens the argument for fans of hand-drawn cel animation.

The audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The action sequences make great use of the surround and the subwoofer gets a good workout, but the sound team also treats the quieter moments with just as much attention.

Most of the other extras are presented in high definition. “Meet the Cast” is a featurette that introduces the characters and their voice actors. “Pushing the Boundaries” highlights the animation, and “Sound Design” focuses on the sound of the movie. “Mr. Ping’s Noodle House” is a standard-definition segment featuring Alton Brown the host of Iron Chef America that illustrates how to make noodles, and “How to Use Chopsticks” is just what it says. “Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas” provides information about pandas, encourages protecting them and tells how. “Dragon Warrior Training Academy” is a game that gives players the opportunity to become a dragon warrior. “Printables & Weblinks” is accessible through a computer. There’s also a music video for “Kung Fu Fighting” by Cee-Lo, “Learn the Panda Dance”, “Do You Kung Fu?”, a DreamWorks animation jukebox, DreamWorks trailers, and more.

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