Tuesday, May 19, 2009

FILM REVIEWS: Pixar vs Studio Ghibli vs Dreamworks

KUNG FU PANDA (2008) Dreamworks Animation

Unfortunately, there is a negative notion towards animated films as being targeted exclusively for kids, or adults who have kids. But recently films such as Ratatouille and Shrek have proved that this is no longer the case. The two giants of the genre, DreamWorks and Pixar are going head-to-head once again. Failing miserably from 2007 with a dried up Shrek The Third, DreamWorks have once again opened up the floodgates last year with a fresh and quenching release, Kung Fu Panda.

I viewed this film in a massive G-Max Cinema. Wall to wall, ceiling to roof screen. I was thankful for that, as this film is a visual delight. Bright and colourful without being tacky or overpowering *cough Speed Racer cough*. This is one of the movies of the year that must be seen on the big screen.

The movie follows Po (Jack Black), a lazy and always hungry panda who secretly wishes to become a kung fu master one day but is forced to help his father (strangely, a bird) run the family noodle shop. A kung fu master, Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) has a premonition that Tai Lung (Ian McShane) is going to escape prison and threaten their village. Oogway chooses the Chosen One and who could that be other than the unlikely Po. Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) trains him along with the Furious Five to help defend the village and ultimately defeat Tai Lung and in turn prove that a kung fu master can come from just about anyone.

The storyline I thought was predictable at times but nonetheless carries the audience seamlessly through the end. The animation was spectacular and special praise to the fantastic choreography that created the insanely exciting fight scenes. People were clapping and cheering all the way through the film. And they should. Mostly funny but needed a tiny bit of tweaking to give some of the dialogue a bit more wit but with that aside this is great entertainment and is a definite must see. With a few tweaks here and there, I think DreamWorks Animation can finally reach the elusive bar of Pixar perfection. Not only visual wise but also, hopefully, in storytelling.

Rating: 7/10


I fell in love with Japanese anime ever since I viewed Howl's Moving Castle then later on, Spirited Away. I was moved by their spectacular imagery, beautifully drawn characters and the sheer capacity of imagination that oozes from these films. The girl who leapt through time was no exception.

The title pretty much sums up what the movie is about. A girl finds an object the allows her to travel in time. This is a clear example of having too much of a good thing because as she uses the power more the more problematic things become and she's forced to go back and forth to fix the damages that she causes. Discovering that the amount of time travel that she can use is limited, she makes a choice of what is more important to her.

I became quite attached to the characters due to their high level of likeability. The storyline is simple yet in a way also complex. The plot is layered yet each piece of it follows a simple narrative thus creating a simplistic complexity in the story. The visuals are outstanding. I wouldn't say it's on par with Spirited Away but then again TGWLTT does not include fantasy creatures. The pace of the film is near perfect although the ending was a bit of kick on the gut since it didn't wrap things up as nicely as I would have liked it (Disney ending influence? Oh no!). Nevertheless, this is a fine film with an imagination that pushes beyond boundaries. I welcome Studio Ghibli with open arms in my animation war.

Rating: 8.5/10

TO BE CONTINUED: Pixar's Wall-E review and conclusion are coming on the next post.
Poster links here and here

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