MOVIE REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda 2
Jack Black is back, with Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Dustin Hoffman
Did the Kung Fu Panda story need to continue? It depends who you ask. Fans of the first movie would probably tell you that the story was already complete. This isn’t like the rematch we needed from Rocky and Apollo Creed in Rocky 2. However, I'm sure the suits at the studio would say yes, since it's a popular animated picture with a big cast and will net them a few hundred million at the box office.
The new villain for Po the Panda (Jack Black) to face is Lord Shen, voiced by someone that's probably done at least 10 villains on film: Gary Oldman (most recently the good guy in The Dark Knight).
Other characters have voices provided by Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Dustin Hoffman, and the very animated James Hong as Mr. Ping, the father goose.
Some real martial artists are in this as well: Jackie Chan, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, who is probably thanking his lucky stars for the role.
Black is the Dragon Warrior panda Po, protecting the Valley of Peace with his other animal and bug friends. When a villain threatens to conquer China, he springs into action. There's also a touching side story about him being on a quest to find out about his real parents.
In some ways, this is better than the original. In most ways, it's not. It's an animated film geared towards kids, but I don't even mind the formulaic plot. I just wish there were more humorous scenes, like the time the praying mantis (Seth Rogan) barely survives a fight. He's exasperated as he utters under his breath "I just wanted to find a nice girl, settle down, and have her eat my head." When I think about how hard I laughed during Up a few years ago, or even the many laughs had with Rio, I've come to expect more from animated films.
The fighting scenes are fun, but there are too many of them. The animation of Kung Fu Panda 2 is beautiful; it's one of those rare times where the 3D actually added to the visuals, instead of just taking from our wallets.