KUNG FU PANDA 2 – The Review
More heart, deeper storyline, and more action is what this sequel brings to the screen. Reuniting the writing talents of Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, that penned the first installment of this soon to be trilogy, was a magnificent choice for the film. The characters have more depth, connection, heart-warming moments, and of course more fight choreography. Directed by Jennifer Yuh, known for SPAWN – THE TV SERIES and writing collaborator on other animated projects such as SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS and THE REAL ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY QUEST – THE TV SERIES, knows animation well and it shows by her distinct perception of the fight sequences and overall look of the film. She is not afraid to use different camera angles and close-ups to instant sky shots. This kept a very good pace while watching the film while also giving the audience a better look at the town and outlying areas. And, by the way, kudos need to be given to the perpetually overlooked fight choreographer of the animated film. They were unique in several elements and gave Yuh more to work with. Weapons, items in the path, and their own talents were interwoven in the fight scenes, which there are many-as to be expected in a film about Kung Fu.
In Dreamworks latest animated feature, we find the characters from the original, Po (Jack Black), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross), and Viper (Lucy Liu) using their ever developing Kung Fu skills to fight against a new enemy…the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). There is a huge back story that is better revealed when you see it at the theater so you can be genuinely surprised. But, it is foreseen by the soothsayer that Lord Shen and Po’s pasts are linked mysteriously. This fact is shrouded in flashbacks and interjected back story throughout the film. Po’s mind opening up to the past makes his concentration of the future more difficult than usual, and he is also on another quest in this film-to find inner peace. A necessary step in the development of Kung Fu, so says Master Shifu. There are many journeys throughout the movie that all intertwine in an interesting solution that sets up for the third film. We do meet some new characters along the expedition that enhance the story and will most likely be part of the next installment. Some of them are significant names in the martial arts world, such as John-Claude Van Damme and Michelle Yeoh.
All in all, it was very entertaining with the fight scenes, but the new story line truly gave an otherwise predictable sequel a twist or two and kept you engaged. Po’s antics as a clutz that ends up falling on the right villain kept families engaged thoughout and laughing out loud as well. So, parents beware; yes there are weapons and yes there is plenty of fighting but no noticeable blood (keeping it PG) and not-so-noticeable deaths. Highly recommended family diversion for a couple hours, although the film itself has a running time of 85 minutes. From the WeAreMovieGeeks team…Enjoy the holiday weekend of sequels!