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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

‘Cooking’ Up Character Growth: ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ Embraces Familiarity in Cinema’s Ever-Changing Landscape

Chameleon+%28Viola+Davis%29+is+the+newest+villain+in+%E2%80%9CKung+Fu+Panda+4.%E2%80%9D++When+Po+learns+that+Chameleon+has+orchestrated+Tai+Lung%E2%80%99s+resurgence%2C+he+commits+to+a+journey+to+stop+the+shape-shifting+sorceress%E2%80%99s+devious+scheme+to+steal+the+chi+of+various+Kung+Fu+masters+from+the+Spirit+Realm+and+expand+her+power.+
Graphic by Alice Ahn
Chameleon (Viola Davis) is the newest villain in “Kung Fu Panda 4.” When Po learns that Chameleon has orchestrated Tai Lung’s resurgence, he commits to a journey to stop the shape-shifting sorceress’s devious scheme to steal the chi of various Kung Fu masters from the Spirit Realm and expand her power.

In the darkness of night, Juniper City’s miners begin their laborious shift amidst the dim glow of lanterns and fiery hardware while the rest of the city slumbers. The miner bulls toil tirelessly until their routine is abruptly interrupted when the villainous leopard, Tai Lung (Ian McShane), emerges from the shadows. As Tai Lung ominously announces his return to villainy since “Kung Fu Panda 1,” chaos ensues and sets the scene for the long-awaited fourth addition to the series.

The fourth installment of the “Kung Fu Panda” series, “Kung Fu Panda 4” debuted in theaters on March 8 with a new cast while simultaneously retaining the beloved essence of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise. In this film, Po is faced with the daunting duty of selecting a successor for his current title of Dragon Warrior and becoming the new Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. On top of this new burden, Po is ambushed by a string of shocking events that compel him to push his responsibilities aside and embark on a journey to end escalating villainy in Juniper City.

Despite the dark and unsettling beginning, viewers are soon dropped into the mountainous landscape of the Valley of Peace. For long-time fans, the vibrant lanterns, rocky terrain and blooming blossoms with newly refined details and animation evoke nostalgic childhood memories. As Po’s expedition extends beyond the Valley of Peace, the animators continue to showcase their remarkable range throughout the seamless transition between diverse landscapes. Through these intricately crafted scenes, audiences are easily immersed in a rollercoaster of emotions alongside Po, from comfort to fear.

The addition of Zhen (Awkwafina) to the cast of characters brings a dynamic dimension to the film. Awkwafina’s portrayal of Zhen’s sharp wit and sarcasm is nothing short of brilliant, showcasing her talent for comedic roles and making her the perfect choice for the character. In contrast, “Kung Fu Panda” veteran Jack Black continues to expertly capture Po’s earnestness and naive optimism. Po and Zhen’s contrasting personalities provide humor and add depth to their interactions, which is a standout aspect of the film.

Po’s journey is tumultuous, filled with constant clashes and encounters with new allies and foes. The meticulously choreographed fight sequences and seamless motion tracking serve as a vivid reminder of Po’s true “Kung Fu” prowess. The evolution of the “Kung Fu Panda” series’s use of film techniques becomes strikingly evident in this latest film’s most intense, action-packed moments and glues viewers’ eyes to the screen.

Amidst the abundance of action and violence, Po remains a typical clichéd, cartoon protagonist with a cheesy sense of humor and clumsy demeanor. While these traits may be deemed unlikeable by some, his down-to-earth personality humanizes his mistakes and seemingly irrational decisions made throughout his journey. Po’s playfulness serves as a reminder that a movie does not have to be riddled with philosophical ruminations and other cinematic affectations to be relished by viewers, adults and children alike.

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About the Contributors
Alice Ahn, Social Media Team
Alice Ahn is the co-social media manager for her first year on the Portola Pilot. As a new staff writer, she feels honored to have her work on newspaper pages and the internet for the very first time. Apart from proofreading her own writing an unhealthy number of times, Alice frequents novels with entrancing titles but mediocre plots. She wants to make the most out of not only this school year, but also her Spotify Premium subscription, and would love to hear any of your music recommendations.
Kelly Yeh, Staff Writer
Kelly Yeh is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. This year, she is thrilled to share inspiring and captivating stories with her fellow Bulldogs through her work. When she is not busy stressing over school deadlines or annoying her dog, you can find her obsessing over new shows, adding to her Spotify playlists, or finding new cafes to study at with friends.
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