Saturday, June 7, 2008
When A Pixar Film Is Not A Pixar Film...
You know when it comes to animated stories, Pixar is the king. They're the rulers, the man on the mountain to knock off. All films(Disney's included) have rightfully been compared to their films. They've not only created a list of successful films, but really entertaining ones as well. I always have said to one of my friends that a bad Pixar film is better than most live-action films that get released anyday. Hands down.
When it comes to CG animation, Pixar is the tops. Dreamworks and Fox tend to be second tier and the other tend to fall into a third tier or lower. I'd say, in my opinion, "Shrek" and "Ice Age" would be second tier, followed by "Madagascar" a little lower with films like "Bee Movie" taking up the bottom ranks. Anything below that on this list wouldn't really be anything I'd even think about seeing.
Now here comes "Kung Fu Panda"...
For the first time, I actually have seen a film, a CG animated film that isn't made by Pixar that's worthy of being a Pixar film. That film is Kung Fu Panda. I loved this film. It's an instant classic. This film is both endearing and heartwarming with a clever, well written script that is lean and fast(the film clocks in at 92 minutes).
Jack Black plays the title character, a big pile of lovable Panda who literally dreams Kung Fu. He's obsessed with it and naturally finds himself in a world where he has no hope of becoming his dream, only dreaming of the dream. This is one of those "follow your heart" films that feels so much like something John Lasseter would have turned out. It's really that good.
The story is equal parts Kung Fu and comedy with neither one hogging the other for screen time. If you're a fan of 70's Martial Arts pictures, then this film will be like a long lost love letter wrapped in some amusingly funny paper of course. This film pays respects to those films while being refreshingly new and contemporary. There's not an ounce of fat on this script/film. What's needed to be shown is, what's not needed is simply not there. My main complaints about "Speed Racer" were in regard to its length and too much exposition. The Wachowski Brothers should use this film as the template by which they make anymore family films.
I remember when I first heard of this and thought of it as just some throwaway film with another gimmicky story like "Over the Hedge" or something even worse. It's not. Jeffrey Katzenber should be commended for putting together this jewel of a creation. It's definitely something I'm going to see again this week and one film I plan on adding to my DVD collection. Personally, I think it's great when a film like this comes out of the blue... Pixar needs competition so it doesn't get lazy and having to live up to this film's high standards is a challenge the Lamp is worthy of achieving. Kung Fu Panda puts Dreamworks Animation into a whole new field that they've never occupied before.
Your turn John Lasseter...