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kung fu panda 4

★★★★

starring: jack black, awkwafina, viola davis, and bryan cranston 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior, while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.

Not gonna lie - there’s something special about having a bonafide Hollywood star not only hit up the media screening that you’re attending of his new film, but be the nicest celeb ever, spending so much time with his littlest fans as they showed off their kung fu moves. The real, life appearing Jack Black not only made the experience of this screening so memorable, but as he so often has done throughout his career, it’s his unique personality and comedic style, along with that of his co-star Awkwafina that truly makes Kung Fu Panda 4 pop. With comedic performances from stars Jack Black and Awkwafina that fill their characters with a fullness of life and personality matched only by the stunning animation, Kung Fu Panda 4 is an enthralling, action-stacked, fun filled ride for young and old. Skadoosh!

 

After three death-defying adventures defeating world-class villains with his unmatched courage and mad martial arts skills, Po, the Dragon Warrior (Golden Globe nominee Jack Black), is called upon by destiny to … give it a rest already. More specifically, he’s tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace and he needs to quickly find and train a new Dragon Warrior before he can assume his new lofty position.

 

Also, there’s been a recent sighting of a wicked, powerful crime lord, Chameleon (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), a tiny lizard who can shapeshift into any creature, large or small. And Chameleon has her greedy, beady little eyes on Po’s Staff of Wisdom, which would give her the power to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.

 

The big narrative difference between this entry and the other films in the Kung Fu Panda franchise is that the Furious Five, the master kung fu warriors who protect the Valley of Peace along with Po, are off on missions of justice, leaving Po behind. This allows space for Po to look for a new dragon warrior. Onto the scene pops Zhen, a street smart fox, who, through the brilliant voice work of Awkwafina, is a real match for Po’s personality, energy, and comedic prowess in the form of Po’s voice, Jack Black. 

 

And while Kung Fu Panda 4 is action-stacked, with gorgeous animation, and a stunningly detailed world, it’s Jack Black and Awkwafina that make this film such an entertaining day out at the movies. It takes a lot for our outdoor obsessed nearly two and a half year old to sit down and still for anything. But she loved Kung Fu Panda 4, sat throughout, and is now proudly showing off her kung fu moves to anyone and everyone. And surely, as the school holidays approach, being able to entertain the kids for a couple of hours is the marker of a very good film indeed. 

 

With comedic performances from stars Jack Black and Awkwafina that fill their characters with a fullness of life and personality matched only by the stunning animation, Kung Fu Panda 4 is an enthralling, action-stacked, fun filled ride for young and old. Skadoosh!

★★★★

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