Kung Fu Panda Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Once again I find myself describing a picture that is so obviously reference that I am in danger of running out of adjectives!
First up detail, obviously defined by the computers pixel, but is so well defined as to be razor sharp, look at the background to get an idea of how intricate and delicate the detail is, aged stone to waving grass, quite astonishing; ok it never looks 'real' but it's not attempting too but its definition is outstanding. Water too looks incredible.
Colours are bold and almost luminous especially the primaries, reds are vibrant, greens are lush and blues are striking, there is no bleed, wash, banding or posterization, just delicate shades and sweeping swathes.
Brightness is set to give some deep, deep blacks which give a mammoth depth to the frame, take a look at the prison to see what I mean, you could loose yourself, and still contains plenty of detail going on in the shadows, again the prison scene best demonstrates this. Contrast is set to give astonishing bright whites, no boosting means no detail loss anywhere on the frame.
All this leads to a three dimensionality to the picture that is outstanding, I lost count of the times when I witnessed it and came to the point where I just accepted this as the best animated picture I have yet seen on this format. There are no digital compression problems, there are no original print problems (obviously); in short utterly breathtaking image. A new contender for best picture and one that even though 10 should be theoretically impossible to achieve I find myself awarding.
There are four sound tracks to choose from; French, Spanish, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround of which I concentrate on the latter. Just as the picture is clearly reference so to is the sound track offering as it does a spectacular sound field full of energy, subtly and enough bass to feel in the pit of your stomach.
Immediately the film starts you are awash with the sound field; the Chinese style percussion music bouncing around the room, the dialogue comes from the centre and the action is dispersed around the room to fit with the visuals. There is pin point accuracy and this is just a dream sequence. Once the film starts proper there are delights in store. Effects come thick and fast, some obvious; crowd shouts echoing; others more subtle; Tigress' dialogue moving from front centre to front right to rear right as she leaves the picture.
The demonstration of the Furious Five is excellently realised; in the arena it's loud and brash with sweeping effects and bold scoring, then switch to outside as Po tries to get in, you have all his wasted efforts and still the background emphasises the demonstration and its distance. The fireworks shoot upwards and explode with a crackle and thump above you! There is a full range and plenty of bass detail there are also plenty of LF effects from punches and kicks to some gorgeous rumbles so deep and sweeping as to leave a huge smile on your face; take a listen to the final Wuxi move that Po uses in the climatic battle; oh boy, reminded me of the Buncefield Fuel explosion!
It is a dynamic and all encompassing sound track that is at once epic and bold, but with subtly and finesse in the quieter moments. Clearly then a reference sound track and like the picture one to show of the benefits of HD in general and your system in particular.
Even though it looks like there is a vast array of extra material, closer inspection reveals rather less than stellar.
- Film Makers Commentary
Directors Mark Osborne and John Stevenson sit together and discuss the film in an easy and enjoyable way; taking in everything from designs to casting to lighting to style both anecdotal and technical; being a short film its an easy listen to.
- Trivia Track
A pop up trivia track that is a complete waste of time and bitrate as 90% of the information is give in the directors commentary.
- Animators Corner
A picture in picture commentary track that has the two directors talking you through the film - different from the commentary - highlighted by storyboard pictures and other behind the scenes filming and interviews.
- Meet the cast - 0.13.18
A short feature that introduces the main, but not all, cast members of the film, a little bit fawning and nothing is really revolutionary but its short run time means it doesn't wear out its welcome.
- Pushing the Boundaries - 0.07.07
Ever notice how each new computer animated feature uses all new technology to make the film work ? Well Kung Fu Panda is no different and this feature explains how new frames were needed so that the characters could do believable kung fu.
- Conservation International: Help save the wild panda - 0.02.00
Jack Black spreads the word about conservation of these most adorable creatures.
Po's Power Play
- Dragon Warrior Training Academy
Easy game, pass five 'challenges' to become the Dragon Warrior.
- Dumpling Shuffle
Follow the dumpling under one of three cups.
- Learn to Draw
Draw your favourite Kung Fu Panda character by following the on screen instructions.
Sounds and Moves of Kung Fu
- Sound Designs - 0.03.54
Incedibly short feature in what is arguably the most important aspect of an animated feature, contains interviews and background filming of the foley artists.
- Learn the Panda Dance - 0.04.32
Someone called 'your girl Highhat' teaches you the dance that goes with the newly covered Kung Fu Fighting single that closes the film.
- Kung Fu Fighting Music Video - 0.02.29
By Cee-lo, prefer the original myself
- Do you Kung Fu
Pick your favourite character from the film and a child will show you how to emulate their fighting style with some basic kung fu moves.
Land of the Panda
- Mr Ping's Noodle House - 0.04.43
See how Chinese noodles are made in slow motion.
- How to use chop sticks - 0.02.55
God how much more of this is there?
- Inside the Chinese Zodiac
Put your year of birth in and see which animal you are.
- Animals of Kung Fu Panda - 0.06.18
A brief look at the styles of kung fu emulated in the film.
- What fighting style are you
Answer a few questions to see which style best suits you.
- Dreamworks Animation Video Jukebox
Watch selected music from Bee Movie, Shrek 1, 2, 3, Shark Tail, Madagascar, Over the Hedge and Flushed Away.
For Madagascar 2 and the awesome looking Monsters versus Aliens
- BD Live
Only thing so far to download is watch a short scene in several different languages. Woohoo
Inside Kung Fu Panda
So as you can see apart from the commentary and PiP sections this extras package is aimed pretty much at those who have yet to age to double figures, whilst they maybe large in number are tiny in content.
Kung Fu Panda is an absolute triumph; a seamless melding of picture, sound and story in the greatest tradition of moving pictures. It appeals to both young and old alike working on many different levels, but over and above everything else it is a funny, funny film.
Dreamworks Blu-ray package demonstrates just how good this format can be in terms of picture and sound, both clearly being reference material, with only the extras packing being the weakest link. But ignore that bit as this film should be on everyone's Christmas list, do yourselves a favour, press the Movietyme link at the bottom of the review and purchase this disc, you and your system won't be disappointed; it really is that good.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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- Film Makers Commentary