Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review for KUNG FU PANDA 2

Awesomeness is here.

The sequel you never saw coming is finally out in theaters and in eye-popping 3D.  I really enjoyed the first one, with it's great humor, excellent animated action, and a great voice cast, and when I heard that it was getting a sequel, I'll admit I had my doubts.  However, after just finishing it I can say that my doubts were wrong and this film is just as funny and action-packed as the first.

The film takes place sometime after the first, obviously, where Po the Panda (Jack Black) is now known as the Dragon Warrior in his village and he saves it from all sorts of danger.  But this not how the film officially starts;  It begins with back story for our villain Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) the son of the Peacock Emperors who ruled over China, in the form of a very beautiful 2D animated sequence, similar to Chinese shadow puppetry.  After the invention of fireworks, Shen discovers a way to use them for a more sinister purpose, and thus creating some of the first cannons.  When his parents seek the aid of the Soothsayer, she explains that if Shen keeps going down this path of war mongering, he will be defeated by a warrior of black-and-white...hmmm sounds like someone we know.  After he learns of this prophecy he deploys his personal guards, who happen to be wolfs, to hunt down and kill every Panda in China.  His parents then banished him from the Empirical City after this heinous act, and he vowed to seek revenge and take what he claims is rightfully his.  We then jump years later, and Shen has finally created his master weapon to take over China, and then the world...

Yes, I know whose joke this belongs to but, come on, I had to do it.

Po and the Furious Five, which consists of Masters Tigress, Mantis, Viper, Monkey and Crane, (Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, and David Cross), are sent out to end Lord Shen's tyranny and destroy this weapon from taking over China and, what Shen proclaims, will destroy Kung Fu.

This movie is hilarious, with jokes that parents and children will enjoy.  The humor mostly consists of Po and his oblivious nature, which is just how the first film portrayed him as.  The character has not changed and I love that.  The choreography for the action scenes were even better than the first.  Awesome fight scenes, from all the heroes and even the villain.  Tons of work went into the fighting, making it somewhat authentic with a cartoony mix to make it more amazing to look at.  There was also great work put into the voice acting, as all the original cast, including Dustin Hoffman who reprises his role as Master Shifu, returns for this one.  The new actors also add some of their flare in the movie as well, as we not only get Gary Oldman but also Jean-Claude Van Damme playing Master Croc, Dennis Haybert (the guy from the Allstate Commercials) playing Master Storming Ox and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the Soothsayer.  Now with all the familar and new faces in this film, you think that they all play a big part of the overall story right? Well yes and no.  With all this new talent they really don't do anything, aside from the Soothsayer, who helps get the story going along and offers guidance to Po.  The biggest surprise came from Gary Oldman, who played a tremendously scary Lord Shen who is a Peacock....yeah! I actually said that.  Oldman is probably the stand out performer in this film and I applaud his work.The Five however are a different batch of characters this time around.  In the previous film The Furious Five didn't really do that much, except fight or stand in the background.  They would say a line here and there, but not much other than that.  Tigress had more in the film, but it still wasn't that much support for a supporting character.  In this film, it's kind of the same thing, but they do have more lines and they get to actually DO some things.  Tigress even has some interesting character development in the sequel, as I sensed some kind of romance or serious feelings she had for Po.  I even thought for a while that we would be treated to her own past to go along with the revelations Po comes across, but sadly we don't and any development that is hinted to us goes nowhere.  I would have to see that, maybe because it would be an interesting character change for such a stone faced character like Tigress...or maybe I'm secretly a, who knows?

Now your're probably going to ask, 'did I see this in 3D?'  Yes I did, and it was great.  Normally the 3D movies of today shows more depth in the film, instead of having things come at you, but here there was an equal balance of both.  The climatic ending is a great example of this, I won't ruin it for you, because it's kinda hard to describe and it's just too awesome to put in words.  Kids will love the 3D and parents won't feel like they were ripped off for paying such a high ticket price for a movie.  In the end, I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen, and if want to spring for it, see it in 3D.  I should warn parents before hand that the sequel takes a darker tone, with the fact that Lord Shen committed an act of GENOCIDE against the Pandas...let me repeat that, there is GENOCIDE in a family film!  But don't let that worry you as the ending turns that around, with a huge hint of a another movie on it's way.


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