Kung Fu Panda 2 Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: PG Release Date: May 26, 2011
PLOT: Po (Black) starts to wonder who he is and where he came from, while an evil peacock (Oldman) wants to control China.
WHO'S IT FOR? Families. Actually, that's to say all ages should enjoy this one, not just kids. Also, it you liked the first, this one should definitely please.
EXPECTATIONS: For some reason I was mentally putting this on par with Ice Age sequels. In other words, I wasn't expecting much.
ACTORS: Jack Black as Po: All of Black's comedic antics just fit as Po. It actually does feel like it couldn't be anyone else. Thankfully, Po hasn't regressed. While he's still a little bit of a buffoon, he's also a true Kung Fu master who can handle himself in a fight. Po's big questions is "Who am I?" The questions and his quest never feel forced, and this feels more personal than the first film. Score: 8
Angelina Jolie as Tigress: She has hands of steel and a heart of occasional gold. Luckily the fighting is over between Po and Tigress. She's willing to allow Po to lead as long as he has the team's best interests at heart. Jolie isn't given much to do, but it doesn't seem to hurt the film. Score: 7
Gary Oldman as Lord Shen: Oldman as an evil peacock. While "evil" seems to fit almost every Oldman character, I thought Peacock would be a stretch. Nope. Lord Shen is a bad ass bird. He's got an evil genius quality because he sees the potential weapon when looking at fireworks. A goat/soothsayer says if he continues his ways, a hero of black and white will save the day. I wonder if she's referring to Po. Yes, I wonder. Score: 9
Rest of Cast: Seth Rogen has a couple of voices, and the rest of the names are pretty impressive considering how small their parts are ... Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Victor Garber. It almost seems like a waste to have such limited dialogue for all these characters, but then again, if you can do it, you might as well grab big names. My favorite, James Hong as Mr. Ping, Po's father. I could actually see someone tearing up during some of the father/son moments Mr. Ping and Po share together. Score: 8
TALKING: It's pretty amusing. Lines about inner peace are flipped around to "inner piece of what?" Adoption talk between Po and Mr. Ping hits all of the standard comedic points for a panda and duck. Plus, they dive deeper with Po's story, so you're actually with him emotionally as he's trying to figure out his past. Score: 8
SIGHTS: 3D is back! As you may remember, I wasn't pleased with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (in 3D). The 3D was dark and pointless. Here, it brings you in. You're properly immersed. Plus, there are great action sequences. At one point the characters go from a jail to a castle and it's ... it's ... all right I'll say it, it's a non-stop thrill ride. There's some good site gags like the eating/pooping dragon, and no, I don't normally go for that sort of thing. Score: 8
SOUNDS: I like the "boing." It's a little slapsticky, but whenever Po gets into a fight, you can hear his belly boing. The musical score keeps in rhythm with the first, making the action a little more intense. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Po is ready to stand up and stop Shen. He screams from a rooftop, but Shen and his wolf pack are too far away to hear him.
ENDING: I was caught up in it. Po has been searching for inner peace and he finds it. With this movie's logic, being able to grab cannon balls and find inner peace are one in the same. Once again, it appears there is good reason for him to be the dragon warrior.
QUESTIONS: Man, that goat/soothsayer has to feel awful, right? Think about it. She tells Lord Shen he needs to stop his evil ways or a black and white hero will stop him. He then goes on a genocide, killing every panda in sight. I'm assuming she did not see that coming.
REWATCHABILITY: I totally would. It looks like a sequel will be coming so I'll probably just wait for more original stories.
Teamwork. That's what is needed to make a movie work. Especially a sequel. Kung Fu Panda 2 has plenty of it. There's a story that is compelling. They use 3D and it creates a beautiful world. There's a villain that's fun. Plus, Po and the Furious Five work as a great team. It's nice to see a sequel where the characters don't regress as you'll see with most part twos (yes, The Hangover Part II, I'm talking about you).
If you enjoyed the first KFP, it will be impossible not to like this one. In fact, I enjoyed this more than the original. I can't say that about many sequels. In the first film, Po is told he's the chosen one, and then eventually believes it. Here, the soothsayer tells Lord Chen a prophecy and without realizing it, he puts it in place. Reap what you sow and all of that good stuff. Pixar will have a tough time owning the best animated movie this year with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rango in the mix. It never felt like they were making this movie just to grab some more cash. And just like this film, I know the proper amount of times to drop a catchphrase (once) ... Skadoosh.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10