H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

HD-DVD STORE         HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE

 

ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 

Kung Fu Panda [Blu-ray]

 

(Mark Osborne + John Stevenson, 2008)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Video: Paramount / Dreamworks

 

Discs:

Region: FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:32:09

Chapters: 23

Feature film disc size: 21.7 Gig

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 4th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC

 

Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles:
Feature: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish and none
 

Supplements:

Inside Kung Fu Panda
Filmmakers' Commentary (with optional subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish)
The Animators' Corner
Trivia Track
Meet the Cast (HD - 13:17)
Pushing the Boundaries (HD - 7:07)
Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas (HD)
Po's Power Play
Dragon Warrior Training Academy
Dumpling Shuffle
Learn to Draw (HD - 8:20, 5:26)
The Sounds and Moves of Kung Fu Panda
Sound Design (HD)
"Kung Fu Fighting" Music Video by Cee-Lo (HD)
Learn the Panda Dance (HD)
Do You Kung Fu? (HD)
Land of the Panda
Mr. Ping's Noodle House
How to Use Chopsticks (HD)
Inside the Chinese Zodiac (HD)
Animals of Kung Fu Panda
What Fighting Style Are You? DreamWorks Animation Video JukeBox (HD)

Dreamworks Animation Video Jukebox

Trailers

BD-LIVE

 

Product Description: Kung Fu Panda features Po the Panda, a lowly waiter in a noodle restaurant, who is a kung fu fanatic but whose shape doesn't exactly lend itself to kung fu fighting. That's a problem because powerful enemies are at the gates, and all hopes have been pinned on a prophesy naming Po as the "Chosen One" to save the day. A group of martial arts masters are going to need a black belt in patience if they are going to turn this slacker panda into a kung fu fighter before it's too late....

 

 

 

The Film:

Kung Fu Panda adopts a different, less zany tone than one might expect from a movie with that title, especially considering that Jack Black has been brought on board to provide the lead voice. While it would be unfair to say that the movie doesn't present its share of comedic moments, the animated production as a whole jettisons non-stop jokiness in favor of something a little more serious. Thus, Kung Fu Panda ends up presenting a message about believing in oneself that might not have come across as successfully had it tended toward outright fatuousness.

 

 


The film is set in and around China's Valley of Peace, where there are no humans, only talking animals. Po the Panda (voice of Black) spends his time daydreaming about being a martial arts hero when he's not working for his father (James Hong) making and serving noodle soup. Meanwhile, at a nearby temple, the head monk, Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), has had a vision that the power-mad Tia Lung (Ian McShane) will escape from prison and ravage the Valley in his quest for dominance. To stop this, Oogway must discern the one who deserves to become the Dragon Warrior....

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews.net located HERE

 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I don't know that there is a lot to say about this transfer. It probably looks exactly as it was intended to. Digital animation, especially on Blu-ray is usually quite flawless. Any haziness is purposeful for the realism of motion. Colors look very good and overall the image is impressive - sometimes a bit glossy. Darker scenes, of which there are a few, are particularly well rendered. I'm not overwhelmed by this animation style - it's cute and all - but have to admit there are so very strong moments in this film where detail, contrast and colors appear in a pristine marriage. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature size being a reasonable 21.7 Gig. There is no DNR, grain or edge enhancements - this is straight digital to digital. I can't really critique it and hopefully, the screen captures below will give you an idea of what it will look like on your system. It can look quite awesome at time if lacking some depth you more aptly find on live-action.

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
We are given a boisterous TrueHD track without another English option (but three foreign language 5.1 DUBs). It's quite strong supporting all sorts of activity including the usual slapstick physical comedy with our poor protagonist on the losing end. There are also some fireworks, a festival, fight sequences and dialogue is always clear as a bell shooting straight out of the center channel. I will state that I don't necessarily think those celebrity performers chosen were the perfectly suitable choice for each voice... but whatever. The original music by John Powell and Hans Zimmer is perfectly suitable to the plot and character movement. This is all good folks - maybe not demo but as good as one could expect to support this film. There are optional subtitles offered in
English, English SDH, French, Portuguese or Spanish .

 

Extras:
Extras are endless - and divided into sub-sections. Under Inside Kung Fu Panda - we are offered a Filmmakers' commentary (with optional subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish - great inclusion!), an Animators' Corner, a cool little onscreen Trivia Track and an HD feature - Meet the Cast which, in 13 minutes, can barely give us but a glimpse of each doing their in-studio vocals and Jack Black going berserk. There are two more 1080 featurettes - Pushing the Boundaries running 7 minutes and another from Conservation International: Help Save Wild Pandas. All politically correct and covering the bases. Under the main section 'Po's Power Play' we have more light kid's stuff from Dragon Warrior Training Academy to Learn to Draw some specific characters. It's a good idea to separate these into sections and the next one The Sounds and Moves of Kung Fu Panda handles the specific area of the sound department of Kung Fu Panda. We have featurettes (all in HD!) on the Sound Design, the "Kung Fu Fighting" Music Video by Cee-Lo, Learn the Panda Dance, Do You Kung Fu? (HD). Land of the Panda includes more fun options from Mr. Ping's Noodle House and How to Use Chopsticks (HD) to Inside the Chinese Zodiac (HD) and a short piece on the Animals of Kung Fu Panda. Another amusing bit asks the question - What Fighting Style Are You? For
Blu-ray keen-o extras we are supplied a DreamWorks Animation Video JukeBox (in HD), a few trailers and the BD-LIVE (with a liner notes guide) that didn't appear to be working at the time of this review. So your cup runneth over...

 

 

Bottom line:
Yeah, sure - it's fun with a decent message and doesn't resort to going overboard as much as we have seen Hollywood try on most occasions. My two boys liked it - one giving full attention and it's something I could sit through as well - being amused here and there. You can get wrapped up in your viewing and time flies by at quite a pace. As you might have anticipated this
Blu-ray is... pretty much perfect
. Any flaws I could point out are more to do with the animation style, or voice characterizations, and that is my personal opinion. I have nothing factual to negatively relate about how this looks and sounds in 1080P. It's great. If you want to see Kung Fu Panda then this is definitely the way you want to view it in your home.

Gary Tooze

November 1st, 2008

 

 

 





 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!