Okay…Let me start by saying two things: I liked this movie even more than the first one, and I sincerely forgive Jack Black for Gulliver’s Travels, Year One and Shark Tale (I know a guy’s gotta make a living, but c’mon!) after seeing, or rather, hearing his performance in the new Kung Fu Panda 2 movie, KFP2, as I will now refer to it. KFP2 is a lot of fun for young and old alike. The preview audience I was in attendance with this past Saturday was really into the movie, and for a very good reason. Let’s find out why.
The original KFP came on the scene in 2008, and was very well received, both in box office (almost $632,000,000.00 world-wide) and DVD sales (9,000,000 plus) numbers. And now…DreamWorks Animation has once again created a wonderfully fun movie, creatively keeping mom, dad and the kids interested. It’s available in 3-D, but even after previewing the 3-D version, I would not insist that viewers HAVE to see it that way. I am not a fan of this “3-D everything” movie culture right now, and this movie is no exception. It would be perfectly enjoyable, and more reasonably priced, in the 2-D version. Your choice.
Anyway, in the first KFP, Jack Black’s character is named Po, and he is a sweet-natured, sensitive and totally-awesome panda bear. Black’s voice characterization of Po seems to fit him perfectly, and it would be difficult to imagine another voice in his place. If you remember from the first movie, Po realizes he has to rise up and become the Dragon Warrior he was always meant to be, along with the help of The Furious Five, made up of the voices of Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross. These characters help Po in his quest for greatness, and together they protect the Valley of Peace in China. Of course, I shouldn’t forget Po’s mentor and master instructor, Shifu, voiced by Dustin Hoffman.
In this second adventure, Gary Oldman voices the evil Lord Shen, who wants to destroy everything associated with the old ways including Kung Fu, and Po and the rest of the gang must stand up to him and his evil henchmen. Po must find “inner peace” to become an even greater Kung Fu Master, and, of course, he fails miserably at his first few attempts. Po also wants to know about his origins, and who his ‘real’ parents were. This disturbs his father, who has tried to keep this information from Po, but, as growing kids will do, Po keeps asking, and the questions he has are finally answered. This is where a dark part of Po’s past comes to light. I have to say I had a lump in my throat a few times during this movie, especially during the parts about Po’s childhood, as well as many smiles and laughs at Po’s adventures and mishaps.
My 4-year-old son was with me for this, and he was delighted and chuckled many times during the movie. It’s rated PG, comes in at just 90 minutes and is good heaping fun for the whole family.
I understand that animated features are not for everyone’s taste, but DreamWorks Animation and KFP2 delivers on this one in visuals, sound, fun and danger combined. Enjoy!