Kung Fu Panda 2

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Po Faces a New Enemy and His Past in Kung Fu Panda 2

May 30, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Fun, entertaining movie.  Decent story.

Cons:Many characters underused.

The Bottom Line: Kung Fu Panda 2 is a cute, fun, animated movie that is worth watching, though it does have a few issues.


I really wasn't surprised when I first heard that a sequel to Kung Fu Panda was going to be made.  I don't mind sequels when they are done well, but I did wonder how well it would end up being.  DreamWorks doesn't have the best record with their sequels as far as I'm concerned.  Even with my concerns, I still wanted to see Kung Fu Panda 2.  I just saw it and I think it is a good movie overall.

Kung Fu Panda 2 stands alone fairly well, though certain things will make more sense to people who have seen the first movie.  I'm not sure how much time is supposed to have passed since the end of the first movie.  A few things that happen will be minor spoilers for people who haven't seen the first movie yet.

Po is enjoying being the Dragon Warrior, fighting alongside the Furious Five - Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane, and Viper to protect the Valley of Peace.  Master Shifu says that Po hasn't finished his training yet and that he needs to achieve inner peace.  Po has barely attempted to do that when he and the Furious Five have to head off to deal with wolf bandits.  Not long after that, Shifu receives word that Master Rhino has been killed by a new weapon developed by Lord Shen, a peacock who wants to take control of all of China.  While trying to do that, Po is also dealing with memories of his childhood that raise questions for him.

While the credits play, there are changing illustrations.  They are there throughout all the credits.  There isn't a scene after the end of the credits.  

Kung Fu Panda 2 is being shown in 3D in some theaters.  I saw the regular 2D version.  The animation was very well done.  Some of the locations look very realistic and the water looks wonderful.  The returning characters and some of the locations look like they did in the first movie, but also slightly different since computer animation technology has improved since the first movie.  The fur on Po and Tigress looks much better, and in a few scenes, it is even wet.  I did notice different images that would take advantage of 3D.  Some scenes, that are dealing with things that happened in the past or that are supposed to be from a dream, are shown with a different, more simple style of animation.  

The plot for Kung Fu Panda 2 continues the story of Po.  He is a good fighter, but he still has more to learn.  The situation with Shen comes up, and then Po is trying to fight him with dealing with strange memories or dreams.  I like that more about Po's past comes out, including how he ended up with Mr. Ping, a goose, as a father.  Shen is entwined in Po's history and destiny in a way that does make the story a little more complicated.  While the movie is still fun and entertaining overall, there are also some darker elements as well.  Those things do work for the movie, though children may not catch all of those things or their significance.  Guillermo del Toro is the executive producer, and his influence may have led to the darker parts of the movie.  There are also a few touching scenes as well a good amount of humor.  Some of the humor is a little gross, but it isn't that bad.

Po and the Furious Five end up in several fights throughout Kung Fu Panda 2.  The fight scenes are done well and look good, though at times, things are happening so fast, it is a little harder to see clearly what is going.  Even though he has developed a weapon and he seems to dislike kung fu, Shen is a good fighter as well.  He has an interesting way of fighting that does look cool.  The fight scenes do add some violence without making the movie violent overall.  The movie is rated PG, so parents may want to check it out before letting their children see it.  

Several of the characters in Kung Fu Panda 2 are returning from the first movie.  Once again, Po is the main character and receives the most attention.  He is happy being the Dragon Warrior, but does end up wanting to find out more about his past.  He does go through some more changes and growth during the movie.  Jack Black continues to do fine with the voice of the character.  Po's father, Mr. Ping is in a few scenes at his noodle restaurant.  

Shifu is barely in this movie, which is a bit disappointing.  Dustin Hoffman doesn't have much to do with the voice of the character.  Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane are back, frequently fighting with Po.  Once again, they all say very little, so the actors providing the voices are wasted.  Tigress ends up with a few more lines, and a bit more about her is also shared.  It would have been nice if the characters had been used more.  Master Rhino, Master Croc, and Master Ox are protecting Gongmen City when Shen arrives.  Master Rhino is killed and the other two end up in jail.  They all only get a few lines, which made it harder for me to recognize the voices.  

Shen the peacock is the main villain.  He works well as a villain.  He sort of looks elegant at times, but he is deadly and evil, willing to do anything to achieve his goals.  There is a refined creepiness to the character and Gary Oldman does a perfect voice for him.  Shen has a pack of wolves working for him.  Most of them are just sort of there, fighting.  The leader of the wolves gets a few lines every so often, though he is still a flat character.  Michelle Yeoh does the voice of Soothsayer, a character that provides a few prophecies.  

Main Voice Cast

Jack Black - Voice of Po
Jackie Chan - Voice of Monkey
David Cross - Voice of Crane
Victor Garber - Voice of Master Rhino
Dennis Haysbert - Voice of Master Ox
Dustin Hoffman - Voice of Shifu
James Hong - Voice of Mr. Ping
Angelina Jolie - Voice of Tigress
Lucy Liu - Voice of Viper
Gary Oldman - Voice of Shen
Seth Rogen - Voice of Mantis
Jean-Claude Van Damme - Voice of Master Croc
Michelle Yeoh - Voice of Soothsayer

Jennifer Yuh - Director

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a good sequel with a decent story that helps to make the main character stronger.  People who enjoyed the first movie, or who like animated movies, should give this one a chance even though it isn't as good as the first movie.

DreamWorks Related Reviews
Antz ~ Bee Movie ~ Best Computer Animated Movies ~ Chicken Run ~ Flushed Away ~ How to Train Your Dragon ~ Kung Fu Panda ~ Madagascar ~ Megamind ~ Monsters vs. Aliens ~ Over the Hedge ~ Shark Tale ~ Shrek ~ Shrek 2 ~ Shrek the Third ~ Shrek Forever After ~ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas ~


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