Kung Fu Panda 2 Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: PG Release Date: May 26, 2011
PLOT: Po (Black) and his friends must stop an evil, power-hungry peacock (Oldman) from unleashing his new weapon onto the world.
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of Kung Fu Panda likely won't be disappointed by this sequel, especially those who love the film for Po most of all. Some parts of this movie are at a dramatic level that might be too heavy for young children.
Fat panda falls down, kids laugh. The gist of Kung Fu Panda 2 may not be any more complicated than this, but the creators behind this animated sequel are able to continue their franchise with some fun flair. Jack Black is a charismatic voice to an already excitable lead character, even if Po does seem to leave everyone else except for an odd sounding Gary Oldman in the dust, when it comes to spotlight time. But this is what you mainly invest your ticket money in Kung Fu Panda 2 for – Po’s multitude of jokes that poke fun at his obesity or lack of stealthiness.
Though it is loaded with an increasingly surprising list of voice talent, this is absolutely Po’s show. The names of the animals in “The Furious Five” are hardly ever mentioned, and they all have to share the duty of throwing in a one-liner, as if there truly was a “talking stick” in the vocal booths when this movie was made. The names of said vocal talent aren’t revealed in the end, and it’s a little frustrating. Jackie Chan, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Gary Oldman are in the same movie, and they hardly interact with one another? Of course this animated film is called Kung Fu Panda 2, but where’s the proper appreciation for its loaded casting?
Kung Fu Panda 2 maintains a fairly simple arc, but works with some pretty rough moments of loss and family identification throughout its story. Thankfully, the movie doesn't underestimate these moments, and instead makes them surprisingly touching. Try not feeling something during any of Po's interactions with his dad, Mr. Ping. Animated movie about a panda that does Kung Fu or not, extreme emotional distance is impossible.
During flashbacks, Kung Fu Panda 2 uses a striking form of flatter animation that gives the backstory a certain dark charm, a bit like that lauded sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. The overall look of the film, which doesn’t immediately demand a viewing in 3-D, is enhanced by some labored art direction and beautiful scenery. As the film meets its expectations to offer Kung Fu, it takes on this task with some creativity and cleverness. The final battle especially has its own epic quality, with a lot of explosions, a big location, and of course, a satisfying amount of Kung Fu.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10