I wish this film actually had a better name. “Kung Fu Panda 2” is a rare thing: a sequel that is FAR superior to the original. That is why I wish is had a better title. If you have kids that enjoyed the first one, they may like this one just as much. But if YOU liked the 1st “Kung Fu Panda”, then you are going to LOVE “Kung Fu Panda 2”! It’s hysterical!
There are so many great things to say about this film! First, the animation is delightful: fresh, colorful, almost invigorating. I particularly liked the way the artists separated the dream sequences and reality; that was very well done. I also liked the music more for this one than the original. I know that might sound kind of weird in an animated film, but the score to this really helped “Kung Fu Panda 2” reach the audience better, I think.
The storyline is MUCH more engaging than its predecessor as well. Not that “Kung Fu Panda” sucked for story, but it wasn’t nearly as fun as this one. A Peacock as a villain? Now that’s being creative! And the whole “death of Kung Fu” is a classic theme in many of China’s better known (and produced) martial Arts films (just 2 examples are “Fist of Legend” and “Once Upon a Time in China”). The names of the other Kung Fu masters are perfect – and they are voiced by some incredibly good choices such as Dennis Haysbert (you’ll recognize his voice from the All State commercials) and Jean-Claude Van Damme. In fact, “Panda 2” breaks out some major talent with Gary Oldman as the villain Lord Chen, Michelle Yeoh as the Soothsayer, and the returning cast members of Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, and Jackie Chan. It is a toss-up as to who is the top talent in this film: Oldman as the villainous peacock Lord Chen, or Jack Black as Po the Panda. They are both fantastic in this! Jack Black will have years of work as the voice of animated characters, I predict, thanks to the success of his time on this film most especially.
The climatic boat battle scene is epic and it is done to perfection! I almost cheered form my couch while watching it! But the humor of this film is even better. Do you remember how funny you thought “Shrek” was after seeing it for the 1st time? Well, in my opinion, “Panda 2” trumps that – HANDS DOWN. It has clever wit, clichéd scenes, and even slapstick comedy all thrown in there. Slapstick comedy, folks! How do you do that with animation and make it work so well? I don’t know, but they did it wonderfully. (I specifically am referencing the jail scene with Master Croc and Master Storming Ox.)
I am huge fan of martial arts and martial arts films, so to those of you out there of similar tastes, you will LOVE “Kung Fu Panda 2”! Even if you are not, anybody that enjoys a good laugh will love this film! Seriously, I am debating buying this movie …like today. It’s fantastic entertainment for the whole family and it is SO much better than the original. Kudos to the cast, crew, animators, director and producers of this film for making “Kung Fun Panda 2” the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman! Well done, I say!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.