Kung Fu Panda 4 * Great Sequel Starring Jack Black Back As Loveable Po Joined by Awkwafina, Viola Davis and Dustin Hoffman

After Po is tapped to become the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace, he needs to find and train a new Dragon Warrior, while a wicked sorceress plans to re-summon all the master villains whom Po has vanquished to the spirit realm.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene S. comments, “Don’t get your noodles in a twist because Kung Fu Panda 4 is available now. For the first time in almost a decade, comedy icon Jack Black returns to his role as Po, the world’s acknowledged most unlikely kung fu master.  Some familiar characters are here to support him on his journey along with some new relationships which refresh this beloved franchise.” Katherine S. adds, “Kung Fu Panda 4 is just the feel-good movie I needed this year. It’s an incredibly entertaining family-friendly movie that seamlessly weaves humor and heartwarming messages.”  Maica N. adds, “With a daring adventure and character development that gives the movie an appropriate pace, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a new lighthearted film that I definitely enjoyed.” Arjun N. wraps it up with, “The film’s message is that violence never solves conflicts. Although the film is full of fisticuffs, Po goes to great lengths to first reach an understanding with his foes. Po’s reluctant transformation from Dragon Warrior to Spiritual Leader is at the heart of this nonviolence; furthermore, it develops Po’s brazenness into a source of peace.” See their full reviews below.      

Kung Fu Panda 4
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Don’t get your noodles in a twist because Kung Fu Panda 4 is available now. For the first time in almost a decade, comedy icon Jack Black returns to his role as Po, the world’s acknowledged most unlikely kung fu master.  Some familiar characters are here to support him on his journey along with some new relationships which refresh this beloved franchise.     

Po, the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black) is about to experience a transition in his kung fu role in the Valley of Peace.  Kung Fu Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) informs Po that he is needed to become a spiritual leader and to choose and train the next Dragon Warrior.  This new role is a challenge for Po as he enjoys butt-kicking moves to counter villains and questions his fitness for a new cerebral role.  While searching for inner peace we are reminded that for Po everything comes back to dumplings.  Resisting his new role, Po determines it is necessary to first thwart a powerful new sorceress, Chameleon (Viola Davis), who can shapeshift and seeks total kung fu domination.  He finds an unlikely partner in a tricky thief, Zhen (Awkwafina) who ends up teaching him that heroes can be found even in a den of thieves.


The computer animation of this film is so beautiful that, in the beginning, it almost appears to be 3D.  The backgrounds are stunning and you’ll love the various scenes in this wonton wonderland from DreamWorks Animation. I really enjoyed the interaction between the unlikely duo of Po and Zhen and the comedy created between their two characters.  I absolutely love the new villain Chameleon and Viola Davis really illustrates how small and stylish stature doesn’t impact the extent of evil evident in a character.


This film’s message is that true change comes from within and that support from family and friends makes a great impact while helping to enable that change.  After all, every step someone takes, no matter how large or small creates a footprint for others to follow.


Kung Fu Panda 4 gets5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults.  This movie releases in theaters March 8, 2024 so go enjoy this hilarious new chapter in a favorite action-comedy franchise!

Kung Fu Panda 4
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Kung Fu Panda 4 is just the feel-good movie I needed this year. It’s an incredibly entertaining family-friendly movie that seamlessly weaves humor and heartwarming messages.

When our favorite Dragon Warrior and Kung Fu fighting panda, Po (Jack Black), is chosen to become the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace, he must step down and train a new Dragon Warrior. However, he isn’t quite ready for that change and has no idea who to choose as his successor. To top it off, the Chameleon (Viola Davis), a powerful sorceress, has set her eyes on Po’s Staff of Wisdom, so he must go on one last Dragon Warrior adventure to save the Valley of Peace with the help of the clever bandit corsac fox, Zhen (Awkwafina).

Even though the target audience for this movie, based on its humor, is pretty young, this film is enjoyable for the whole family. Plus, it embeds some deep messages about change and redemption. The animation style and quality is top notch – reflecting exactly what we expect and more from DreamWorks. The animation style of the bunnies and pigs is so iconic and adorable, and I love seeing the new types of animals the movie introduces. I also love how they portray the energy coming from the Staff of Wisdom and the Chameleon’s magic. One of my favorite duos in this movie is Mr. Ping (James Hong), who is Po’s adoptive dad, and Li (Bryan Cranston), Po’s biological dad. You can really tell how much they both care for Po and they make a great team. Awkwafina’s distinct and unique voice really fits the personality of Zhen. It’s so endearing to see her character grow and develop, and the contrast between her sneakiness and Po’s genuineness makes them complementary partners. Of course, Jack Black never fails to make the audience laugh – he makes Po so lovable and relatable. There’s a lot more star power in this film with voice actors like Viola Davis, Ian McShane, Dustin Hoffman, Mr. Beast, Seth Rogen and more. I only wish we got to see more of the Furious Five.

The film’s messages include recognizing that even though change is hard, it isn’t always bad, and it’s never too late to do the right thing. Also, as with the previous Kung Fu Panda movies, we are reminded to never judge a book by its cover.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It comes out in theaters on March 8, 202

Kung Fu Panda 4

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 16

Exciting. Dynamic. Captivating. Our favorite panda, Po is BACK in the fourth installment of Kung Fu Panda. With a daring adventure and character development that gives the movie an appropriate pace, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a new lighthearted film that I definitely enjoyed.

Kung Fu Panda 4 focuses on Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black), who has been promoted to the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace. This means that he now has to select and train a new warrior. In his process, he discovers that the evil shapeshifter Cameleonul (Viola Davis) is trying to steal his Staff of Wisdom. Joining forces with a witty and sly fox named Zhen (Awkwafina), Po has to try to stop Cameleonul’s plan. 

This animated film is geared toward a younger audience and with that in mind, the plot is a bit predictable. The viewers can sense the plot twists and changes throughout the movie. Despite this, the fast paced scenes like the chase in the town, keep you engaged the whole time. The animation pays great attention to detail, which helps move the story forward while keeping the audience interested. One of the biggest examples of captivating animation is when Cameleonul is shape shifting. Audiences anticipate what she will turn into next, big or small, and what vibrant colors are coming. One of the characters that stands out is Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina. Her delivery and comedic timing is on point, and she fits the character perfectly. Her banter with Po creates a friendly relationship that audiences can invest in. Kung Fu Panda 4 is perfect for a family movie night, and has an important message that all audiences can relate to. 

The film’s message is that, while it may not be easy, change is what builds character and makes you the best version of yourself. Po doesn’t know who he is, if not the Dragon Warrior, but he eventually realizes that passing wisdom down and helping others succeed is one of the greatest accomplishments he can achieve. 

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 4 out 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can find Kung Fu Panda 4 in theaters on March 8, 2024. Make sure you check it out!


Kung Fu Panda 4

By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 22

Trailer:

Kung Fu Panda 4 may not pack the punch of earlier Kung Fun Panda movies, but the breathtaking animation, frenetic fights and well-placed humor more than deliver. Families must check this out for fun pandemonium that both adults and kids can enjoy.

This film starts a new journey for Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) once he is commanded by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to find a replacement Dragon Warrior and complete his transformation as the Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. Unfortunately, Po knows little of spiritual learning, preferring a good fight and dumplings; worse yet, he runs into a mysterious thief Zhen (Awkwafina), who really gets under his fur. Worst of all, a sinister, shapeshifting sorceress Chameleon (Viola Davis) seeks to usurp Po’s Staff of Wisdom to lead and re-summon the spirit realm that is littered with Po’s finest foes. Desperate times call for desperate measures from Po as he trains and relies on Zhen. Can Po once again save the day and make a Dragon Warrior out of Zhen?

The cast is full of hilarious talent that works well off each other. Jack Black, as Po, picks up his character compellingly since he last picked up the mantle. Black’s liveliness is always present, but here, he also gets to show off his emotional chops while coming to terms with change. Po might be at a career crossroads, but thankfully Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is here to help with his elderly wisdom. The Furious Five might leave a void in their absence but thankfully Awkwafina, as Zhen, naturally fills that void with Po as their hunt for the Chameleon turns into a buddy-cop spectacle. I can’t think of a better complement for Po as the duo bond over their similarities and weaknesses; furthermore, it’s Zhen’s inner struggle with her inherent shadiness that remains most compelling. For that reason, Zhen’s inclination to improve and do the right thing is a memorable and honorable character arc. Viola Davis, as Chameleon, absolutely carries the foe’s presence with her commanding, sinister voice. Sadly, the Chameleon is the weakest antagonist in the franchise. Her underdeveloped, generically villainous endgame does not bring the nuances and complexities of Po’s previous rogue gallery. Last but not least, Po’s parents Mr. Ping (James Ping) and Li (Bryan Cranston) undergo a wholesome quest to find Po; Cranston, in particular, comedically shines in a recurring subplot where he must fool enemies into thinking he’s Po. Mike Newell aptly directs the animation with stylistic choices that allow for breathtaking world building and fluid, stadium-like fights.

The film’s message is that violence never solves conflicts. Although the film is full of fisticuffs, Po goes to great lengths to first reach an understanding with his foes. Po’s reluctant transformation from Dragon Warrior to Spiritual Leader is at the heart of this nonviolence; furthermore, it develops Po’s brazenness into a source of peace. Despite the film’s child-friendliness, parents should be aware of mild violence. A few characters unfortunately die, but thankfully the deaths are comically unfocused and mostly implied.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets4 out of 5 stars and from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on March 8, 2024 in theaters. Be sure to check it out in theaters.


Kung Fu Panda 4

By Avani M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Set in the fun and humble town of the Valley Of Peace, Kung Fu Panda 4 had me laughing from the amusing story, amazing acting and great animation.

Po (Jack Black), the great Dragon Warrior, now has to become a spiritual leader who has to identify a successor and guide the next Dragon Warrior. He does not believe he can be a mentor and a leader, and while meditating to find a solution, he encounters a fox named Zhen (Awkwafina). A fight ensues and when Po puts her behind bars, he finds out that a new villain, The Chameleon (Viola Davis), has taken over Juniper City. With her shape shifting powers, she can turn into anyone and is planning to take over more land, including The Valley of Peace. Together, Zhen and Po go on a dangerous journey to bustling Juniper City to fight The Chameleon. They are met with countless challenges, and ultimately with the help of a team of bandits, take down The Chameleon.

Kung Fu Panda 4 definitely is entertaining with its funny and amusing characters, plus great morals and stories. The animation is mind blowing with amazing detail for these two different locations. The Valley of Peace is shown to be a small, colorful, village where everyone knows each other. Compared to the Valley of Peace, Juniper City is shown to be a darker, bustling city with many hardened people. The 60s style fight scenes, reminiscent of old Batman TV shows, kept me engaged and are very enjoyable. Jack Black definitely skadooshes as Kung Fu Panda! His empathetic and hilarious tones make it impossible not to love Po.  Awkwafina is so great as Zhen because you can feel the hurt she carries with her in her voice. Viola Davis shows her Oscar prowess by delivering a very intimidating Chameleon. Dustin Hoffman, as Master Shifu, shows his annoyance and frustration towards Po in a very funny, yet kind way. Finally, Bryan Cranston and James Hong play Po’s Panda and Goose dads, Li and Ping respectively, showing their love and support of Po throughout the movie. Kung Fu Panda 4 reminds us to always believe in ourselves and, even when we do not, at least pretend to. After Po gets hurt, he does not believe he can defeat The Chameleon, but his belief in himself grows with his parents’ support. When it gets challenging, his panda dad, Li, is extremely worried, but acts brave just to save Po. We also are reminded that anyone has the ability to grow into a successful or beautiful thing. At first, Zhen does the wrong thing and then she remembers Po’s kindness and how he believes in her and that changes her. 

The film’s messages are to believe in yourself and remember that kindness is important – everything we say to others affects them as it can affect how they think about themselves and ultimately, their actions.

Kung Fu Panda 4 gets 5 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters on March 8, 2024 Trailer:

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