Movie Review – Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3

Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Randal Duk Kim, Steele Gagnon, Liam Knight, Wayne Knight, Barbara Dirickson, Al Roker, Willie Geist, and many more.

Directed by: Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh Written by: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger Art Direction by: Max Boas Music by: Hans Zimmer

Premise: Li gets a message about the location of his missing son. This sends him to Po’s village in the Valley of Peace. But the happy reunion is short lived as Kai, a battle comrade of the late Oogway, has gathered the chi of all the masters in the spirit world to come back to the land of the living. His objective? To destroy all Oogway once held dear, especially his prodigy, Po, and the pandas from the secret village. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: The great cast from previous Kung Fu Panda films are back to give us a dish full of awesomeness! There are also a lot of new characters and great actors joining the fun as Po is finally reunited with his own kind.

J.K. Simmons was fun as Oogway’s frenemy Kai. Bryan Cranston shows a nice range of emotions as Po’s father Li. Kate Hudson plays Mei Mei, a panda who knows what she wants and how to get it – she cracked me up. There were no small parts in this film – everyone brought something amusing to this entertaining tale.

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Dreamworks has always shown extra effort on the Kung Fu Panda films, and number 3 is no exception. I really hadn’t thought they could top the awesome visuals of KFP2, but they did. For the audience to experience the maximum effect, this one must be seen in 3D. The spirit world scenes are spectacular in 3D. The film has some truly gorgeous graphics.

The textures of the animation were also very impressive. You almost believe you can run your fingers through the pandas’ fur. This makes for a wonderful contrast to the cold, sheen surface of the ‘jombies’ (jade zombies) Kai controls. When the two get brought together during the climax of the film, the differentiation is beautifully magnified.

Dreamworks also introduces some new visual story techniques to their repertoire as well as playing around, as they’re known to do in these films, with mixing arts styles to differentiate between flashbacks or stories from the real world.

Wait until you see the super fun dragon warrior sequence in the spirit world. It’s sweet! 🙂

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: The storyline tackles several themes at once. Themes like family and friendship, relying on others, inner strength, knowing who you are, allowing yourself to be changed by those around you, and being yourself. Within the themes themselves they play with the concepts of duality and ying and yang. Though light on the surface, they dive into deep waters ewith regards to emotional topics and do a good job as always.

I thought the film did a wonderfully at representing the feelings of both Li and Mr. Ping with regards to their roles as Po’s fathers. The solution the two eventually come up with on how to deal with their current positions was great. I also loved the little panda girl and how they used her with Tigress. It was a tale told about the two totally in the background of the main proceedings, but it made it no less poignant and definitely fun.

As the concepts of ying and yang are explored, the film also weaves all three of the KFP movies into a giant circle/wheel as we see Po become what he’d pictured himself as all along. And a fun treat awaits at the end for anyone from the 70’s. You’ll see. 🙂

Conclusion: Kung Fu Panda 3 delivers all the things we love about the previous KFP films –  gorgeous animation, heartwarming storytelling, and a touch of asian mysticism. Fun film for adults and kid of all ages. If you’re already a fan of KFP, you won’t be disappointed. And if you can at all manage it – see it in 3D! Well worth it!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)

Movie Review – Victor Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Charles Dance, Freddie Fox , Spencer Wilding, Bronson Webb, Callum Turner, Alistair Petrie, Guillaume Delaunay, and more.

Directed by: Paul McGuigan Screenplay by: Max Landis Based on the Novel by: Mary Shelley Cinematography by: Fabian Wagner Music by: Craig Armstrong

Premise: Years before the final creation of his masterpiece, Frankenstein studied medicine in London, madly researching how to bring his dreams to fruition. It is here that he run across a mistreated clown at a circus, one who despite his misshapen body, might have the spark of genius he’s been looking for. But Inspector Turpin has put some facts together and is now on Frankenstein’s trail – and the more he finds the more determined he is to stop him. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Daniel Radcliffe proves he’s got what it takes with his great portrayal of Igor. His physical handling of Igor’s infirmities and emotional tug of wars were nicely done! James McAvoy is manic and delicious as the mercurial Victor Frankenstein. Andrew Scott as Inspector Turpin was also a lot of fun. That lovely intensity he’s used when playing bad guys are aimed at his being a good guy, yet he still ends up as an antagonist all the same. 😛

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The awesome special effects works starts almost instantly on this film. An innocent enough sight, watching a trapeze artist ply her craft, becomes so much more when suddenly we see an underlayer showing her bones and working muscles as she works through her routine. This was delicious fun especially especially during the scene where Igor and Victor meet – because they’re both doing it at the same time! And Victor’s treatment for Igor’s hump? Ewwwww!

All the effects for the cool experiments and science equipment were marvelous. The eyes Victor shows Igor when speaking of what he’s working on were especially neat, specifically because they looked like nothing much but then they change! Add in the pulsating body parts, the first successful composite animal, and later a humanoid creature and there’s lots to love.

Throw in the gorgeous skies and storm clouds, exploding equipment, lighting, electricity gone wild – and you get a ton of super cool special effects all over the place. And wait till you see the lovely spanning views of CGI London and then the isolated castle in Scotland!

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: “Victor Frankenstein” is a prequel of sorts. It basically fills in a lot about Igor and Victor before they get together in later years to create the monster we’ve seen in the book and the films. The entire thing is from Igor’s point of view – which made this a refreshing take on the old tale.

A few bits will jar a little – like the fact Igor is treated like trash yet he also becomes the circus’s medicine man, which should have garnered him some respect or respite from his peers, since you might someday end up needing him to treat you for an injury. Also, how Lorelei comes to find herself a patron while recuperating at the hospital is not quite clear. They are little things though and easily ignored.

Though the creature does not take the stage in this prequel, worry not, as there are two other patchwork monsters they get to play with. And it’s fun watching Igor evolve while Victor seems to devolve. Two halves of a whole – the two men compliment each other, making them together more than each would be alone.

While some details don’t jive as they should to fit with the later tale, you can see bits and pieces of other renditions and characters flashing by in this one. A nice ying and yang effect occurs between Victor and Inspector Turpin – both obsessive and shaped by death but pushed in totally different directions. And both somewhat mirror the very chase Victor will later have with his final creation in the novel.

As in Mary Shelley’s original, the themes of religion vs. science, life vs. death, how we are perceived and acted on vs. who we truly are, are intertwined throughout the film.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Amazingly, the film has lots of opportunities for the stuntmen. The madcap chase in the circus, another at the medical college, and even more stunts at the castle in Scotland – the stuntmen are kept quite busy.

5) Location/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of real and touched up locations in the film taking us to London, to Scotland, and more. Igor’s first true view of the city of London was spectacular – showing both the good and the bad at once and also showing the thriving, human filled city. The old castle overlooking the sea in Scotland made for some great shots and doubly so when the storm is coming. The cinematography made good use of everything. Lovely!

Conclusion: “Victor Frankenstein” is a refreshing take on little covered areas of the old tale. Between the costumes, the cool special effects, the lovely vistas, and the great acting, seeing it is definitely worth it.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)