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The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

Review: Kung Fu Panda 4 packs a (mild) punch

As an avid “Kung Fu Panda” fan, I had extremely high expectations for “Kung Fu Panda 4,” especially because the third movie came out 8 years ago. I will say, the art style and music production was absolutely top notch – completely fulfilled my expectations! However, the storyline was a little predictable and only got interesting toward the end. Overall, I’d give the movie a solid 3.5/5.

Po is the protagonist of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, mentored by Master Shifu. Po has been chosen as the Dragon Warrior in the Valley of Peace. Since then, he has run into many foes that he has to fight to defend China, find himself and make friends along the way.

 This movie starts with Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) telling Po (Jack Black) that he would need to find a successor to take his place as the Valley of Peace’s Dragon Warrior. Po, who strongly cherishes his title, found this news to be a little dumbfounding. At the selection ceremony, Po does not end up choosing a successor, to Shifu’s disappointment and frustration. Shortly after, Po encounters Zhen, a sly fox (Awkwafina). She also happens to be a felon since she’s a pretty notorious thief. She tells him about this growing threat to China’s peace, otherwise known as The Chameleon (Viola Davis). The Chameleon is bent on taking over the world by stealing the martial art skills and knowledge of different masters from centuries before. The Chameleon plans on summoning said masters by opening the Spirit Realm with a staff that was given to Po in the previous movie. 

To my disappointment, the “Furious Five,” Po’s gang of friends/fellow warriors from the past films, are unfortunately not featured in the movie, aside from a small glimpse of them in the credits. Po sets off  alongside only Zhen to defeat The Chameleon, and runs into a bunch of foes along the way. Eventually, Po and Zhen end up defeating The Chameleon, successfully saving China. You probably could see that ending coming, hence why I said the plot was pretty predictable. However, it IS a kids movie.

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Everytime I watch a movie I always listen closely to hear the discography. “Kung Fu Panda 4” wasn’t an exception! The soundtracks featured in the other three movies were also phenomenal, so of course, I had high expectations for this movie. 

Those expectations were absolutely met. Words cannot describe how beautiful I found the soundtrack for the fourth movie. I love how the music incorporated traditional Chinese instruments, like the Chinese flute and guzheng (a plucked instrument). In terms of the orchestra, I’ve always loved hearing a good violin number in the back of any song, but in this case, it made the music feel much more epic and interesting to listen to. I would like to point out “Journey,” composed by the award-winning Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro.

I urge you to give “Journey” a listen. I’m no Beethoven or Mozart, but you don’t need to be a chef to know what good food tastes like. “Journey” 100% encapsulates the feel of the movie. The song starts slowly, but with a small buildup to represent Po’s determination to protect China, it suddenly breaks into full tune with an orchestra in the background. But the movie wasn’t all upbeat and “let’s go team.” There were plenty of moments that called for slower beats. One slower song that caught my attention near the beginning of the movie was “Sharing Stories”. 

I’d honestly urge you to listen to the whole soundtrack, but it would make much more sense if you see the movie first. I could go on and on about the music, but films aren’t just about the sound. A movie also needs strong visual aspects.

The previous movies had set my expectations extremely high for the scenery (you should watch them to see what I mean). As I expected, the scenery in “Kung Fu Panda 4” definitely was beautiful– not just the scenes that displayed the natural aspects of the world, but also the ones that were focused on the city and villages. Especially when Po and Zhen visit Juniper City; it kept traditional Chinese architecture while still adding an industrial look.

However, the scenery just didn’t have the magic that the previous movies did. It was pretty, yes, but it was missing something– the sort of flair that the scenery from previous movies had, especially the second movie, where quite frankly even the water looked full of life. The scenery in “Kung Fu Panda 4” felt a little stagnant. Nevertheless, it was still appealing to look at and felt pleasing to the eye. 

Overall, I’d recommend “Kung Fu Panda 4” if you’re into action movies that are still PG, or are a fan of Hans Zimmer and/or Steve Mazzaro’s work. It was a solid 3.5/5. However, only watch this movie if you’ve seen the other three. There are parts of the movie that won’t make sense if you haven’t, as there are lots of references to the first three movies! 

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About the Contributor
Brianna Yang, Features and Co-web Editor
Hi! I’m Brianna, I’m the features and one of the web editors for the Tom Tom! I’m an avid Kung Fu Panda fan (possibly minorly obsessive), and I love playing badminton, hiking, and playing guitar. I prefer the acoustic guitar 100%.

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