When the dice of Netflix randomness was rolled by Team Courier TV Section my near-thirty year old, Film Theory and Practice MA, BA Media Production First Class Honours film scholar heart pined for anything but Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father. Ask and ye shall receive; a Kung-Fu Panda film spin-off series.
I’ve actually seen Kung-Fu Panda as I took my then much younger sister to see it at the cinema after working a sixteen hour nightshift. I liked the opening five minutes and enjoyed the music in the credits when she woke me up at the end. It’s the kind of film I could like - hell I’ve studied Bergman, Lynch, Chaplin, Lang, Fellini and Godard but my film is still Ratatouille. So gimme the series in all it’s Jack Whitehall free glory - I can make this work can’t I?
In a time where we question the insensitivity of Western appropriation it does feel wrong seeing a predominantly white American voice cast tell a Chinese story
Well not really, as it’s a spin-off from a film I haven’t seen and it’s for people much younger than me. I love Asian storytelling, mythology and culture, but in a time where we question the insensitivity of Western appropriation it does feel wrong seeing a predominantly white American voice cast tell a Chinese story. The respect is there, but it fundamentally is whitewashing and that is distracting. The animation is as gorgeous and cartoonish as DreamWorks SKG always is, the stories are interesting and I can see a pre-teen version of myself laughing at all the silly jokes. Jack Black is bursting with energy as lead Po and the transition to a Flash based two dimensional animation style for flashbacks is striking. There are worse things on Netflix to watch, but there are better also. If you’re remotely curious I’d direct you to Laika Animation’s fantastic film Kubo and the Two Strings instead.