Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

Year: 2011
Director: Jennifer Yuh-Nelson
Voice cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, James Hong

Plot: Shen, an evil peacock plans to conquer China with a secret weapon that can destroy kung fu. Po and the Furious Five set out to stop him. However, the tubby panda soon discovers that the stakes are higher for him, as Shen is connected to his forgotten past.

Review: Kung Fu Panda was such a huge success that a sequel was inevitable. The story of Po the Panda and his misadventures in the world of kung fu was both thrilling and hilarious, and in my opinion, is better than Dreamworks' other animated franchise about a cranky ogre.

Director Jennifer Yuh and company carve up a story that is two parts dramatic, two parts action and one part comedy. The focus is on Po's past, as to how he was adopted by his father Mr Ping the goose, and his life before that, and how he must come to terms with it. The villain Shen also gets some spotlight as we see how he's connected to Po, and the motivation behind his plans. To sum it up, the plot is about family, particularly fathers, and on a Father's Day weekend like now, I guess I watched this at the perfect time.

The action comes hard and fast, and it's cool to see Po fight more capably this time, now that he's learned kung fu, though he's still clumsy as ever and not a match for Tigress. It's also cool to see the Furious Five get some screentime to execute plenty of the action sequences here, though Po still becomes the hero in the end of course. All this comes at the expense of Master Shifu getting less time, but that's okay with me. Shen in particular is an interesting villain, as his peacock form allows him to be graceful and deadly simultaneously, using his feathers, claws and a spear as weapons. Gary Oldman voices him well, but I preferred Ian McShane's Tai Lung from the previous film a bit more.

The downside here is the laughs, which is considerably less than the first film. Yuh chooses to spend more time dispensing drama over humour, and though it gives the film more heart, it also makes it a tad more serious. Don't get me wrong, Po is still funny, I just wished there was more comedy to be enjoyed here. I do hope that will be rectified in the next Kung Fu Panda flick, as there is a huge hint of another sequel in this film's ending.

Verdict: A worthy addition to what promises to be a successful film franchise. (3.5/5)

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