With a kick and a pretty powerful punch, it’s something of a Kung Fu Panda day around here, as we celebrate what seems to be DreamWorks’ best film in ages, and a very rewarding recipient of its $60 million opening box-office weekend!

Kicking us off is James R Whitson’s full Toon Review of the movie, which eagle-eyed readers will spot sneaked online last night. As a proclaimed non-fan of the majority of DreamWorks’ animated films, James has surely had his head turned by the company’s new movie, calling it “fresh, fun, but also with real depth. A big improvement was the voice work: Ian McShane drips with refined villainy (and a hint of emotional pain) [and] Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu is easily one of the best performances by a major star in any DreamWorks film”. Wowsers, praise indeed! As if that wasn’t enough, James caps his review with an enthusiastic thumbs up, suggesting that one could “almost look back at the history of DreamWorks films and see how everything led to this point. Ten years after their first animated film, they’ve finally delivered their first true modern classic. I can’t wait to see where they go from here”.

So…just how did Kung Fu Panda turn out as good as it has? Well, the best people to answer that question are the film’s directors, John Stevenson and Mark Osborne, both speaking to Animated News & Views’ Jeremie Noyer, who goes “behind the tatamis” to find out about the making of their movie! Just hearing the way they speak about the direction they wanted to take their film and how they wanted to swerve away from the pop-culture heavy pitfalls of a usual DreamWorks outing really makes me think that the Studio may have found their Brad Birds…two guys ready to step in and shake things up. There’s a real vision at work here, from how the two collaborate together to how the Studio supported and had confidence in their decisions. With Kung Fu Panda‘s powerful box-office punch proving they’re heading the right way, here’s hoping Stevenson and Osborne get to make more of their kind of movies!

Stay tooned! – Ben.