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Review: Kung Fu Panda 4

Image+via+DreamWorks+Animation.
Image via DreamWorks Animation.

The DreamWorks franchise Kung Fu Panda made its way back into cinema with its most recent, but disappointing, installment. Kung Fu Panda 4 features Po, a now-experienced kung fu master, on his journey to find a successor for his dragon warrior mantle. Along the way he encounters the Chameleon, a new villain who brings forth his past opponents in this comedic and action-filled movie.

The Kung Fu Panda movies have stood the test of time. Fans return to the movies to discuss their messages and praise their complex and well-written villains: Tai Lung, a seasoned warrior that went down the wrong path; Lord Shen, a genocidal peacock with twisted goals; General Kai, a master who was forgotten. Each of the villains bring forth interesting and intricate stories into the movie, resonating with audiences and drawing out their enthusiasm to see the villains defeated. Fans of the franchise had high expectations for the Chameleon, hoping that they would be met with a villain as extraordinary as previous ones. Sadly, the Chameleon only lets down the fans.

Lacking any backstory, development, or even significant character traits, the Chameleon as a standalone character barely brings anything to the cast’s onscreen dynamic. While she holds the power to take the form of past villains that Po has faced, proving her to be a difficult villain to overcome, she alone stands as a blank slate — a stark contrast from the previous villains who each had their own goals and aspirations to in fighting the dragon warrior.

The lack of a great villain is not the only thing the movie fails in; the plot also lacks significant depth. The movie attempts to pull together many plot points but fails to capture the audience’s attention. At one moment, we hear about the backstory of the new character, Zhen the thief fox. However, it’s never brought up again over the course of the movie.

The Furious Five, a key group in the franchise, doesn’t make an appearance in the film except for a snippet in the after scene credits. Even then, their disappearance is only mentioned in one line by Po in the first 30 minutes. What would be great moments of storytelling are only touched upon, never fully fleshed out.

Kung Fu Panda 4, while a highly anticipated sequel, doesn’t live up to expectations and fails to capture the richness of its characters seen in its previous movies. With co-director Stephanie Ma Stine hinting at another sequel in the future, one hopes that it will achieve heights that this movie could not.

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About the Contributor
India Quan-Kep
India Quan-Kep, Staff Writer
My name is India Quan-Kep and I am a 12th grader. I enjoy cinema and am planning to study film when I go to college! My favorite hobbies are playing video games and watching shows while sometimes reading.
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