I’ve already expressed my disgust and disappointment with Pixar’s Cars 2. But will DreamWorks’ 2011 summer sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, fare any better?
As the legendary Dragon Warrior, kung fu master Po (Jack Black) guards the Valley of Peace alongside his allies, the Furious Five. When a frightful new enemy emerges, Po and company embark on a perilous journey to save China and the art of kung fu.
everything in Kung Fu Panda 2 is on a bigger scale than the original, and director Jennifer Yuh Nelson keeps everything epic without being excessive. The gorgeously drawn landscapes offer the ideal backdrop for the many action sequences involving Po and the Furious Five versus the vengeful peacock Shen (Gary Oldman) and his army of wolves. (Po’s master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is relegated to a bit part, showing up mostly at the beginning and end.)
The fight sequences, while sometimes too fast for their own good, are still amazing to watch. Other action scenes are just as entertaining, including a hysterical rickshaw chase between Po and one of Shen’s henchmen.
A reigned-in yet still-funny Jack Black returns as Po, who, in addition to being tasked with defeating Shen, yearns to find inner peace – which is played out in a touching storyline as Po learns of his adoption and the truth behind his real parents. As Po’s nemesis, Gary Oldman is perfectly cast as the voice of Shen, a completely different (yet just as formidable) adversary compared to the original film’s baddie, Tai Lung.
Kung Fu Panda 2 has great storytelling, exciting action, endearing characters, and even a surprise ending. It’s infinitely more clever, engaging, and emotionally involving than Pixar’s Cars 2. And it marks the first time I’m saying this about the latest DreamWorks film I saw, rather than the latest Pixar film: I immediately wanted to see it again.
Kung Fu Panda 2. Dash and I laughed at a lot of the same jokes and gags, and we all got caught up in the action as it intensified in the third act (FilmMother included).
Is it suitable for your kids?Kung Fu Panda 2 is rated PG for “scenes of martial arts action and mild violence.” There are several mentions of killing and a few implied deaths; a character is killed off-screen by Shen’s cannon; Shen’s army of wolves can be menacing at times; and a major character is killed by a falling boat mast.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?With its great combination of humor, emotion, and action, I think she’ll really enjoy Kung Fu Panda 2. (Oh, and the bunnies. Can’t forget the bunnies.)
Kung Fu Panda 2
* Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
* Screenwriters: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
* Stars: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong
* MPAA Rating: PG
Rent Kung Fu Panda 2 from Netflix >>