After reviewing Hans Zimmer’s score to Inception yesterday, and with the upcoming release of The Dark Knight Rises next week, also scored by Zimmer, I’ve decided to make this next week Zimmer Week! Every day will feature a soundtrack review for a score composed or co-composed by Mr. Zimmer. Second up on this list is the Hans Zimmer and John Powell collaboration, Kung Fu Panda.
The album has a promising start with the incredibly fun track “Hero”, which opens with a beautiful solo from a pan flute-like instrument before being interrupted by a brass fanfare that rolls into a rock-and-roll-influenced beat, showcasing the main theme that is heard throughout the entire album. I know I’ve said that before, about a theme being heard throughout, but I really mean it this time; there are maybe only one or two tracks in the entire album that don’t feature something you didn’t hear in “Hero”. In fact, this whole album could be summed up with this opening track, and it gets pretty obnoxious.
Don’t get me wrong – there are still a few great moments every once in a while, such as in the track “Oogway Ascends”, but even that track is just a rehash of the opening solo in “Hero”. Very few of these tracks present something we haven’t already heard, and some even appear to have entire duplicate sections. Listen to the “Hero” starting at about 1:55 and compare it to the opening bits of both “Impersonating Shifu” and “Panda Po”…sound familiar? That’s because they’re nearly identical.
I could go on and on about this soundtrack, but the fact of the matter is, aside from a few individual tracks, this isn’t an album that stands well on its own because of how repetitive it is. In the context of the film, though, Kung Fu Panda‘s score works magnificently well. So here’s what I recommend: watch the movie and enjoy the music simultaneously with the plot, the characters, and the visuals. Wrapped together in one big package, Kung Fu Panda is one of Dreamworks Animations’ best productions. Buy the Zimmer/Powell score if you’re a collector, but don’t expect a lot of variety. (However, the closing track, a Cee-Lo Green/Jack Black cover of the Carl Douglas classic “Kung Fu Fighting”, is quite enjoyable, so check that out!)
Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
1. “Hero” 4:42
2. “Let The Tournament Begin” 1:59
3. “The Dragon Warrior Is Among Us” 2:57
4. “Tai Lung Escapes” 7:06
5. “Peach Tree Of Wisdom” 1:53
6. “Accu-flashback” 4:05
7. “Impersonating Shifu” 2:18
8. “The Sacred Pool Of Tears” 9:51
9. “Training Po” 1:28
10. “The Bridge” 3:23
11. “Shifu Faces Tai Lung” 4:47
12. “The Dragon Scroll” 2:31
13. “Po vs. Tai Lung” 2:41
14. “Dragon Warrior Rises” 3:22
15. “Panda Po” 2:39
16. “Oogway Ascends” 2:04
17. “Kung Fu Fighting” (Performed by Cee-Lo Green and Jack Black) 2:30
Total Length – app. 61 min.