New Names for ‘Kung Fu Panda’

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According to Variety Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Ian McShane will be joining Jack Black in DreamWorks Animation’s next animated comedy Kung Fu Panda, which is currently set for a May 2008 release.

The CGI pic finds Black in the title role as Po the Panda, the laziest of all the animals in the Valley of Peace. With powerful enemies at the gates, all hope is pinned on a martial arts hero to rise to save the day. When Po unwittingly shows up in the midst of the martial arts competition, the masters are shocked to see that this unmotivated panda bears the mark of the Chosen One.

Variety tells us that Hoffman will voice the role of Shifu, the by-the-book, tough-as-nails kung fu master whose task it is to transform Po into a fighter. Chan will lend his voice to Master Monkey, a strong, agile and dedicated kung fu warrior, who serves as a daily reminder to Po of everything he is not. Liu will be the voice of Master Viper, another of Po’s teachers, who can be coy and feminine, but is capable of unleashing the warrior within. McShane will voice the villainous Tai Lung, a powerful snow leopard, intent on destroying the Valley of Peace.

Honestly, I don’t know why studios keep spending so much money on big names for these movies. The only thing that really matters in an animated voice is whether or not the voice is the right voice, not how famous the person behind the voice is. I think studios are throwing away a lot of money in these cases, especially with these ensemble casts.

Last time I checked most younglings weren’t dragging their mommies and daddies to the theater to see Shrek because Cameron Diaz was voicing the female ogre.

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