Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) Short Review

Kung Fu Panda 2 is not quite as sharply written as the original, but if you were a fan of that one, you’ll probably like this one.  It continues the story of Po, the unlikely overweight Dragon Master. His team of Kung Fu masters (Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane)  also return but have a little more of a limited role (with the exception of Angelina Jolie’s Tigress).

The five are voiced by Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu and David Cross respectively. The film relies heavily on the Jack Black persona, though, along with the animator’s brilliantly animating Po’s weight related struggles.

Maybe my favorite character from the original film, Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), doesn’t return for obvious reasons, but James Hong returns as Po’s father Mr. Ping. I actually enjoyed the fact that they never addressed verbally that Mr. Ping was not Po’s real father. It helped give the film even more charm with the things that were left unsaid.

This one takes that plotline on, though, and here Po goes in search of his biological parents. The film ends as you think it will, but there are quite a few surprises along the way. There is also an epilogue that probably will lead into the next film.

Dustin Hoffman’s Shifu is also one of the better characters, but he also has a diminished role in the sequel. He does have a few good sequences, though.

There are quite a few good action sequences, too.One of my favorites was the one involving the Dragon puppet/costume where Po and company were using as a disguise.

Some of the one’s involving the villain’s weapon of choice are spectacular. the villain may be the weakest part of the film, which is surprising since he’s voiced by Gary Oldman. He’s not as menacing as Ian McShane’s Tai Lung. he didn’t have too many great lines to say.

I like the KFP series greatly for several reasons. They don’t do the usual thing that these CGI cartoons do: drop pop culture references. I also enjoy the artistic side of it. IIn some CGI cartoons the backgrounds are rendered so realistically that they should have just shot it in live action.

Here there is a bit more cartoony aesthetic. The colors are bright and bold like 90s comic books or old Disney films. I love that. It really is a beautifully rendered art style. I also like the use of hand drawn animation to represent memories, dreams and visions. It just seems a lot more creative in the way the story is told.

It is a good film, one that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike without having to resort to the least common denominator like X-Men First Class did, having Hugh Jackman show up just to drop an F-Bomb. It doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but it does retain enough of that one and introduce enough of the new to be highly entertaining. It’s a big screen film and worth seeing while it’s still out at the the theater.

4 of 5…



4 Responses to “Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) Short Review”

  1. Eric Zimmer Says:

    No, bro, Kung Fu Panda 2 was even better. Like Toy Story 2 & Shrek 2, Kung Fu Panda 2 is a rare sequel that manages to outshine the original. First off, it’s NOT a rehash, as you said it continued the story of Po, like a good sequel ALWAYS should. True, most of the Furious Five don’t have AS much screen time & Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu has fewer scenes, but still. Angelina Jolie as Tigress obviously has A LOT more screen time. In the first film, she’s the tritagonist. In the second film, she’s the deuteragonist. People are starting to say there’s some romance blossoming between Po & Tigress. In the first film, the only hint I found was the fact Tigress was the first to call Po a Master of Kung Fu & smiled at him for the first time. In the second film, there’s at least 12 hints of romance between them. AND Tigress goes through A LOT of emotional turmoil in this movie, including two powerful scenes: one where Tigress confronts Po on the boat about his visions in his “nightmare”, where she starts to question how others deceive her that she “can’t feel anything” & the other when Tigress hugs Po saying “the hardcore DO understand”, which was a real breakthrough. That’s one of the reasons why the sequel’s better; it goes more in depth with the characters. While the first film did a great job at mixing in drama with comedy, the second film had some real tear-jerker scenes; in fact, I heard there were people actually CRYING in some scenes. Kung Fu Panda 2, starring Jack Black, ACTUALLY MADE PEOPLE CRY IN THE CINEMA! How impressive is THAT!?!?!?!? Plus, the villain is even better. I mean, Ian McShane as a snow leopard named Tai Lung was one thing, but Gary Oldman as a peacock name Lord Shen, that’s something new. A peacock! AND a WHITE peacock because WHITE represents GOOD & BLACK represents BAD! He’s got a spectacular backstory, he’s got a fantastic design AND he’s got a devious voice (courtesy of Gary Oldman) but they also manage to rope some good comedy out of him as well; it’s a perfect balance. But what I love most of all is that the film kept me guessing for the most part & I LOVE movies that do that. I mean, I love Kung Fu Panda A LOT, but you could pretty much tell which direction it was heading. Kung Fu Panda 2, on the other hand, threw in a few more twists & turns! Overall, I have absolutely no problems with this movie whatsoever; I think it’s another one of those perfect, flawless films! In fact, I put this in a tie with Shrek 2 as my favorite DreamWorks film! Kung Fu Panda 2 has proven itself to be EVEN BETTER than the original & I look forward to seeing Kung Fu Panda 3 on the big screen when it comes out!

    • Crash! Landen Says:

      I liked the film, but obviously not as much as you did. No one will ever agree on every movie. There are people that tell me that Independence Day was a great movie… They’re wrong, of course, but if the movie entertained them, then good for them. Still won’t change my own opinion, though.
      And thanks for posting…

      • Eric Zimmer Says:

        Well, of course, we have different opinions! I’m not saying everybody should agree with me; I’m pointing out why I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 was better than the original. And I’ve heard about Independence Day. Whether good or not, is it still worth viewing?

    • Crash! Landen Says:

      ” And I’ve heard about Independence Day. Whether good or not, is it still worth viewing?”

      Sigh. I really want to say “No”. But, sure, if you haven’t had the (mis)fortune of seeing it. Maybe you’ll like that one more than I did, too.

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