Michael Sauter
February 16, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Think of The Amazing Panda Adventure as a furry Free Willy. The human hero is Ryan (played by Christian Slater’s kid brother), a boy helping his panda-researcher dad (Stephen Lang) in the Himalayan foothills. His critter costar is Johnny, a cute panda cub who needs Ryan’s help to escape two bumbling poachers. Joined by a local girl (Ding), boy and bear begin a wilderness adventure that’s too mild to qualify as ”amazing.” Still, it’s scenic, even on a small screen. As for Johnny, his animatronic double gets too many unconvincing close-ups, but the real bear is irresistible and cuddlier than a killer whale.

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