Pixar may be the master of computer animated artistry, but so far it’s only spawned one in-house franchise with Toy Story.
DreamWorks in contrast has always played the long game, fashioning with Shrek and Madagascar the kind of criticproof, star-driven vehicles that can generate any number of sequels.
So it’s hard to believe Kung Fu Panda wasn’t also conceived without one canny eye on its potential afterlife. Armed with a sublimely silly concept (martial arts with animals) and an A-list voice cast ( Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie), this story of a gluttonous panda chosen to defend his peaceful kingdom against a revenge-seeking snow leopard even feels like a first instalment, thanks in part to some ill-defined supporting characters who will no doubt be centre stage next time around.
This is energetic, exciting and consistently funny, if rather lacking in subtlety.