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The Fielder

The student news site of Plainfield High School Central Campus

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‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ rehashes old ideas, adds little

Kung+Fu+Panda+4+rehashes+old+ideas%2C+adds+little

Any Kung Fu Panda fan could tell you the third film was the worst of the trilogy and a mediocre film in general, but this fourth film does not fare much better.
Everyone’s favorite dragon warrior Po, voiced by Jack Black, is fighting a menacing stingray before helping his dads with opening their new noodle restaurant. Afterwards Master Shifu, voiced by Dustin Hoffman, tells Po that in order for him to transition into his new role as the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he must train a new warrior in the ways of the Dragon Warrior.
As Po struggles to decide who to train, the shape-shifting sorceress known only as the Chameleon spreads havoc across the land in the forms of all sorts of different creatures and characters; even the beloved original villain Tai Lung. Eventually, Po learns that in order to defeat the Chameleon, he might need to team up with some less-than-heroic-looking figures.
The movie brings back several previous characters such as Lord Shen or Kai but curiously removes the iconic furious five team whose leader Tigress has often times served as a secondary protagonist and mentor to Po. While this was a surprise to many fans, It was seemingly deliberate as co-director Mike Mitchell has stated that they needed to balance the old characters that everyone wanted to see, and the new fresh characters.
The absence of the Furious Five can really be felt within the film as none of the action scenes feel as dynamic or as interesting as the ones in the first two. Another aspect that contributes to the less interesting fight choreography is the Chameleon’s main power of transforming into and summoning previous kung fu masters, which only serves as a palette swap rehash of the previous villain Kai’s ability to create terracotta husks of the kung fu masters.
While the film tries to present Po’s new task of learning how to train the next dragon warrior as something that deepens his character, not only did this “new” experience do nothing to alter how Po views either himself, his martial arts, or the world around him, but It’s also eerily similar to his journey in the previous film entry where he managed to teach his ancestral panda village how to use their own talents and past knowledge of Chi for combat.
Instead, the film redirects energy into the more light comedic moments, which isn’t necessarily bad, except that it mostly relies on recycled bits of slapstick or concepts that we’re already familiar with; such as Po’s massive form making it difficult for him to squeeze himself through tight spaces or cute little guys actually being spooky.
Now, to be fair, there are a few positive aspects such as the animation which remains as stunning as always, and the returning voice actors still insert a lot of energy and personality into their lines.
Overall, this film feels like an unnecessary addition to the Kung Fu Panda series that turned out to be less of a well-crafted narrative and more of a bunch of recycled ideas stitched together. I rate it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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Dimitrios Maras
Dimitrios Maras, Staff Writer
Hello there! I am a new writer who is excited to contribute to the fielder.

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