Kung Fu Panda 2
Kung Fu Panda 2, 2011, USA
Admittedly, I don’t remember much about Kung Fu Panda, except that I enjoyed it, despite the fact that Jack Black annoyed me. I finally decided to check out the sequel on Netflix.
Po (Black) is continuing his training with Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and works to protect the countryside with his friends, Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogan), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross). When China is threatened by Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), Po and his friends must journey to Shen’s tower to stop him. However, upon seeing Shen, Po has a flashback to his traumatic infancy and realizes that Shen is connected to his past and the mysterious loss of his biological parents.
As I expected, Black annoyed me in the sequel. I’ve never been a fan of his, and the problem I had with the film is that Black is simply playing a panda version of himself. There are touching moments, certainly, but I have a hard time finding Po’s more “bumbling” moments charming or funny. I also must admit that I have a hard time taking his kung fu talent seriously – but I suppose that is the point of the film! He is a capable voice actor, though, as is the rest of the cast. I especially loved Oldman as Lord Shen. Oldman is over-the-top and incredibly entertaining. He was easily the highlight of the film for me. Oldman, along with the animators managed to make a peacock intimidating, which is quite the feat.
I also appreciated some of the darker moments in the film. These moments were better than anything played for laughs in the film and they helped develop Po further as a character. Po went on a great journey in this film, and I appreciated seeing the character grow from the start of the movie to the end of the movie.
The animation was spectacular. It was gorgeous and the animators did a fantastic job of capturing the look of China. The flashback sequences were done in what looked to be traditional hand-drawn animation, and I loved the look of them. Differentiating the past with the present by using a differing animation style worked very well in the film. I remember enjoying the animation in the first film, as well.
The ending left the door open for a sequel, which will be released in 2016. I was intrigued by the ending, but I also think the filmmakers have to be careful with how they approach a sequel, because there’s a possibility of undoing the progress and growth Po has made. Nevertheless, I’ll see the sequel, but I’d likely wait until it is available for rental.