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Kung Fu Panda 4: A Hit or Miss? 

Kung Fu Panda 4 is officially in theaters and has been dismaying audiences and disappointing committed fans since its release. Changes made in sequels are often praised and admired, however, this movie was a demonstration of what not to do with a sequel as beloved as this one. Compared to its predecessors, this movie was distasteful and unfulfilling. 

In this film, Po helps his adoptive father and biological father open their new restaurant until Master Shifu informs Po that he must advance and become the spiritual leader of the Valley of Peace. This means Po can no longer be the Dragon Warrior and must find a suitable candidate to take his place.  

Famous actors Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, Angelina Jolie, Viola Davis, and many others voice acted for this movie. All their personalities blend into their characters beautifully, like the way Jack Black’s off-screen genial humor ties into Po’s charm and the way Jackie Chan’s enthusiasm communicates with his character, Monkey. Some say the voice actors were the saving grace of this film, and that a Kung Fu Panda 4 without them would be terrible and colorless. 

With a rating of 3.7/5 stars, 71% rotten tomatoes, and 6.6/10 on IMDb, this movie was definitively mediocre. Fans who saw the first movies in their youth are now mature enough to understand complex themes movies hold, yet the directors of this sequel decided to cater to children who have no history or nostalgia with Kung Fu Panda instead of those who do and would have appreciated more depth. An IMDb reviewer wrote “the movie is not as strong as the first three because its tailored more towards children and feels like a cash grab”. Like many shows and movies with secure audiences, this one also chose to exploit loyal fans into watching a Disney Channel level movie. 

As much as people hated this movie, they did value Po’s continuous optimism and selfless character. His commitment to accomplish difficult assignments to move forward in his journey as a Kung Fu Shifu is inspirational and is portrayed in all four movies. As adored as Po is, though, this movie did not have a grand, overarching theme, or lesson that people can confidently take away the way they did with the previous three films. 

Although this movie was disappointing, it was entertaining at times and remains a perfect movie for children and families. Kung Fu Panda 4 was brimming with potential, but sadly the directors in charge decided to strictly profit from it and capitalize off fans collected over the years.

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