Kung Fu Panda / Secrets Of The Furious Five DVD Cover Art
SRP $34.99 2.35:1(16:9)/1.78:1(16:9) Dolby Digital 5.1 DREAMWORKS
 
Kung Fu Panda BRAY Cover Art
SRP $34.99 2.35:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 DREAMWORKS
 

DREAMWORKS has released one of the year's biggest, heart-warming surprises, "KUNG FU PANDA" on dvd and blu-ray. The dvd has been released with the option to buy it alone or with an added spin-off, "THE SECRETS OF THE FURIOUS FIVE," a 24 minute film.

"KUNG FU PANDA" revolves around the lovable "Po,"(Jack Black) a panda bear spending the day working at his father's noodle shop in China, while aspiring to join the "Furious Five," a group of Kung Fu students, training to be mighty warriors. The Furious Five, includes Tiger(Angelina Jolie), Viper(Lucy Liu) and more. All of these characters are well fleshed out, and the voices perfectly match the characters in style, attitude and more. It's amazing to see. While the challenges facing "Po" and the rest could've easily become formulaic, somehow, the writing manages to do so much more than that. "KUNG FU PANDA" offers a storyline that blends side-splitting humor, heart-warming tenderness and more, in a completely refreshing way seldom seen within the multitude of animated features released in 2008. It's a great film!

DREAMWORKS has presented the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for dvd(16:9 enhanced) and blu-ray, with 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoding.  The image on both is outstanding. Colors are vibrant, showcasing beautiful imagery in every scene. The detail in both formats, is amazing, offering some of the greatest detail available in either format, and making both reference quality demonstration discs. However, the blu-ray handles action scenes with better fluidity, as the dvd presented minor artifacts, surprisingly, being that both are from digital source material. As good as the detail is on dvd, the blu-ray is notably better in every scene due to higher bit-rate. These are both outstanding presentations, and neither format will disappoint.
 

DREAMWORKS has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for the dvd and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for blu-ray.  The way in which the subtle effects enhance the film's atmosphere, really stands out in both formats, a compliment to the creativity of the sound designers. Both mixes present the mix with great fidelity, perfectly balancing nuances with more boisterous actions sequences, and allowing the wonderful music to blend perfectly without overshadowing dialogue.  The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix still manages to outshine the Dolby Digital mix in scene-for-scene, with better clarity and notably deeper bass. While both mixes are great, the lossless mix stands up to the best blu-ray mixes out there, and ranks up there as one of the best mixes to show off the full potential of the lossless format .

The same extras are offered on both formats, however the blu-ray offers them in full HD.  These include a so-so commentary, strictly for those fans who think they'd benefit from listening to the directors explore various themes within the film.

The featurettes, with the exception of interviews and recording sessions with the cast, are typically unremarkable.

The dvd "two-pack" offers a short, animated film, "SECRETS OF THE FURIOUS FIVE." Focusing on the group of students, this 24 minute feature offers a different style of animation than the feature film, but none-the-less outstanding. Even within the short running time, the narrative does a decent job entertaining and fleshing out the individual characters with more detail than the original film. 

Presented in 1.78:1 with 16:9 enhancement, colors are rich throughout, and it doesn't appear to suffer from a smaller budget, as virtually every scene looks amazing with detail.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix offers great fidelity, but it's far less immersive than the mix for the feature film. Bass is also less prominent. Dialogue and surround/discrete effects are perfectly balanced.