I remember a few years ago going to the first Kung Fu Panda movie and being presently surprised by its awesomeness. So it was without hesitation though a little bit of trepidation that I sorted myself out to see the sequel.
My fears were misplaced. But then, how could any movie of this ilk go wrong when it enlists the vocal aid of martial arts legends like Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh and Jean Claude van Damme?
Holding it all together and bringing it all to life is Jack Black as the main panda. He has some wonderful support from the other characters, but really, without him, the film would be pretty hard to imagine. He’s zany and lovable, enthusiastic and unstoppable – a much more amusing and less irritating Shrek in a way.
The story for the sequel is not the usual “loses way; finds way” kind – this one starts a completely new adventure, with China and Kung Fu itself under threat by an evil peacock and his cannon of doom. More typical of a sequel, Po (the Panda) learns a bit about his origins and about himself, and there are some definite moments in which I found myself getting a bit teary-eyed, but then, I can be a sucker for that kind of thing. From time to time.
The animation is great too. Sure it is not a Pixar production, so I wasn’t left in awe about the movement of each follicle of fur, but it is so smooth and clean and juxtaposed by the “imaginary” cartoon animation that it engrossed me nonetheless. Of course, some of that animation looked like it would be lifted directly from the film and tied in to the inevitable video games based on the movie, but then, it was an inevitability that some of the chase scenes would feel like they were created specifically for that gaming purpose considering (the cynic in me says) that they probably were.
No matter. There is very little to complain about in the movie. I would not necessarily recommend bringing a baby into the theatre (as a few people did in our session, the wailing cries of the kids giving away their positions), but the adults chuckled along with the movie – myself included. And the final scene indicated another sequel might be in the works. If so, I can only hope that it is as good as this effort. Touch wood.
Verdict: Kung Fu Panda 2 brought all the Dragon Warrior powers to bear and delivered a pretty convincing fight to win the “good movie” title on points. Its not Toy Story, but then few live action films can live up to that high standard of film making, much less kiddie-aimed animation fare. But what Kung Fu Panda is is an awesome movie, with lots of fun and action and in jokes, and definitely rocked my animated boat (unlike some of the kiddie movie previews we got before the main feature, which made me more inclined to throw myself from that boat and drown myself. But I digress). 8 noodles out of 10.