103 of 116 people found the following review helpful
The original Kung Fu Panda is one of the only Dreamworks Animation films that actually holds its own in comparison to Pixar films. It managed to capture the look and feel of the classics old and new that martial arts film enthusiasts such as myself admire so much while also offering humor that was actually funny, fantastic animation, and just an incredibly entertaining film overall. It turned out to not only be one of the more enjoyable animated films of 2008, but one of the best films of that year period. So, here we are, three years later with Kung Fu Panda 2 resting on the horizon of its release that actually feels just as strong as the original without all of the endless shortcomings most would expect to plague a sequel.
When it comes to animated films, one of the most important ingredients is the cast. The voice cast can make or break an animated feature. A talented one can make it even better while a weaker one can result in it hurting the overall enjoyment of the film. Fortunately, the cast for Kung Fu Panda 2 is pretty spot on. The entire main cast (Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong) returns from the first film and while it would be nice to see some of them have meatier roles and/or more lines (Jackie Chan and David Cross for starters), just having them return is fantastic. Casting changes between sequels are never really great. They can be pleasantly surprising, but it never feels the same. So it's great to see the entire ensemble back in full form. My personal favorite from the original cast is James Hong as Mr. Ping. The Asian American actor is perhaps best known as the villain in Big Trouble in Little China and was also Hannibal Chew in Blade Runner, but hearing that actor voice a goose who runs a restaurant and is so attached to his kung fu panda/China saving son is awesome in itself. Mr. Ping is an emotional wreck with Po putting himself in danger so often and Hong just makes his heartfelt performance stand out above the rest.
Newcomers such as Dennis Haysbert (Heat, "24") and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sunshine) were fun additions. Yeoh voices The Soothsayer, who has a few humorous moments with Lord Shen, but realizing that Jean Claude Van Damme voiced Master Croc gave a little more weight to the throwbacks to well-known martial arts films. That influence is definitely there in the Kung Fu Panda films and both of them use that influence as a crutch in the best of ways, but having talent like Van Damme, Jackie Chan, and Michelle Yeoh participate make it all feel a little more genuine. It'd be like bringing in Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, or Sammo Hung. The cast in this is just as much a drawing factor in this as it is in something like The Expendables. It makes that homage mean so much more.
Gary Oldman practically steals every scene that he's in though. He brings that intensity and dark lunacy associated with his roles in Leon and The Fifth Element to the Lord Shen role; those same traits that made fans love his talent in the first place. He fits the role of an evil albino peacock rather well.
The animation is really the film's Tour de force. Every movement flows naturally and everything is so crisp and smooth. Fight scenes are so fast yet easy to digest. Animals talking, portraying human emotion, their hair folding in the wind all look natural. But the art direction of the film is something special. It was already fantastic in the first film, but they really bulked it up for the sequel. It's slightly reminiscent of "Samurai Jack" yet more awesome; more engrossing. It captures the feel of Chinese martial arts perfectly and the use of traditional animation during Po's flashbacks was an extremely welcome addition; having Guillermo Del Toro as the creative consultant on the film surely helped in their benefit.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is beautifully animated, exceptionally cast, laugh out loud funny, and nearly upstages the original at every turn. While certain things in the film like the "inner peace" bit are slightly predictable, it doesn't take away from the overall enjoyment of a sequel that capitalizes and improves on its predecessor rather than feeling like a watered down version of it.
42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
My husband, child, and I are fans of the original Kung Fu Panda, but I was rather wary about this sequel since most sequels are never nearly as good as their predecessors. Well, I am glad to be proven wrong by Kung Fu Panda 2! All three of us thought this was not only a worthy successor to the original but actually much better. The key elements that make an animated movie a winner are all here - a stellar cast, impressive animation, well-written script, and a story that appeals to both children and adults.
The original cast returns in this sequel with Jack Black providing the voice of Po the adorable Dragon Warrior Panda; Angelina Jolie as Tigress; Jackie Chan as Monkey; Seth Rogen as Mantis; Lucy Liu as Viper; David Cross as Crane; Dustin Hoffman as Shifu the Kung Fu Master; and James Hong as Mr. Ping, Po's dad. In this sequel, viewers are introduced to a new nemesis, Shen, a magnificent peacock skilled in Kung Fu, yet possessed of the blackest of hearts. Shen is ably voiced by Gary Oldman, and every nuance and turn of phrase conveys the evil residing within this creature. One of my favorite Asian actresses, Michelle Yeoh provides the voice of the Soothsayer Ram, an important character in this movie.
The story this time centers around Po trying to find his inner peace as instructed by Shifu. Trouble is, Po is haunted by questions about his past, triggered by an encounter with a bandit wolf. Meanwhile, as Po goes through this inner conflict (something which he chooses not to share with his friends), there is serious trouble brewing over in the capital city. Shen, who was once the heir to the Peacock Throne has amassed an army of ferocious wolves, and most importantly, invented a weapon that makes Kung-Fu seem almost obsolete. Shen is enraged when the Soothsayer Ram refuses to back down from her prediction made many years ago - that Shen's fate is intertwined with that of something which is black and white. So the stage is set for a showdown between Po and Shen.
The story flows seamlessly, and the animation is of stellar quality. We watched it in 3-D, and I enjoyed the effects, especially the battle scenes (and there are tons of those in this movie). The talented cast makes this a pleasure to watch as each actor brings a unique interpretation to his/her character, and it wasn't about Jack Black voicing a panda, but Po as a real character that comes into his own in this sequel. As in the original, positive messages abound here and these are woven seamlessly into the fabric of the story without seeming to come across as overly didactic. Themes such as the notion of what constitutes a family; loyalty; friendship; ambition/greed/evil; and self-identity are all portrayed in a convincing manner, and best of all, there's lots of humor in here, even when the subject matter is serious. This perfect balance of light and dark, the comical and serious, goes perfectly with the Eastern philosophy of Yin and Yang, and Po is the embodiment of these contrary forces.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is rated PG, with a running time of 90 minutes. It is a movie that will appeal to both children and adults, and is entertaining, fun, and poignant. Highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
Adoption issues were touched on in the first Kung Fu Panda movie -- Po (the Panda) notices that all of his ancestors are geese, and he and his father, Mr. Ping, almost talk about it. In this movie, they do talk. Mr. Ping shares his experience of the day he met Po. As the story progresses, Po learns more about his history, and finally has to answer a question posed by another character: "Who are you?" Po ends up being able to synthesize his identity as a panda and as the son of Mr. Ping. This is a fun movie, and could be helpful for adoptive families trying to help their children be comfortable with "multiple-source" identities.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2013
How do you qualify the success of a sequel? Is it whether the film matches or outperforms the original at the box office? Is it an improvement of artistic merit? Or is it taking the sequel in a slightly new direction and succeeding? Kung Fu Panda 2 may be the first animated sequel to answer each of those questions in the minds of each viewer.
Not long after Po (voiced by Jack Black) became the Dragon Warrior and, with the assistance of the Furious Five, saved the kingdom from the escaped snow leopard Tai Lung, the portly panda wears his fame on his sleeve. Never letting those around him forget who is the most powerful kung fu warrior alive. His father has even begun using his son's fame as a selling tool for his own noodle shop. Yet, when a new force threatens the Valley of Peace, Po joins forces with Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) to wrest control from the mad, white peacock Shen (Gary Oldman). Also back to serve up advice and set Po on his journey is Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), a diminutive Grand Master struggling to find in himself inner peace.
Simple as the plot may sound, a challenging execution lays before Jennifer Yuh, a first-time big screen director who has worked in storyboarding and artistic design on film since 1994. Yuh takes the screenplay by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger and their team of writers and gives turns it into a gorgeous, poetic vision of ancient China with rich symbolism, gorgeous scenery and a magnificent series of flashbacks, including the opening sequence, employing various colorful gears to tell the story of Shen's origin. Having received a prophecy that he will be defeated by a creature of black and white, Shen begins a campaign to slaughter every panda alive in an effort to stave off his demise. His treachery and violence lead his loving and peaceful parents to exile him. Adding immeasurably to the magnificent visuals of the opening Michelle Yeoh's wonderful narration adds an beautiful layer of depth.
We know from the first film that Po's father Mr. Ping (Jame Hong) is not his natural father. A goose having a panda cub child? But the film didn't go into great depth about Po's origin leaving a terrific opening for the sequel. In order to find the inner peace he will need in order to defeat Shen, Po must calm the storms in his heart and uncover the truth about his parents and how he came to be the adoptive son of a goose. The flashback scenes peppered throughout the present tense action colorfully unveil his history, revealing a stark and tragic history that allows the audience to form an emotional connection with Po that they may not have had in the original film.
The voice work has changed little since the original film, but adding in Oldman's machinations as the voice of Shen was a stroke of genius. For several years, Oldman has softened his image, giving the audience a glimpse of the more compassionate side of his craft. With roles in the Harry Potter films as Harry's compassionate father and in the Batman films as the kindly Lieutenant Gordon, I had become concerned that we might forever lose the richness of character he could bring to a villainous role. Kung Fu Panda revives my faith in him as an actor. Shen is a cold-hearted villain like few others, but his vocal talents lend an air of menace the film might not have had with a lesser actor in the role. His voice work makes this one of his finest performances in years.
Not since Toy Story 2 has there been an animated sequel that has improved upon the original. Tonally, Kung Fu Panda 2 is quite a bit darker than its comedy-laden first feature, but that's to the benefit of the film. While it has many light moments that give the audience occasion to smile, adding too much levity to a story of such gravity would have been dangerous. They have created the perfect balance. It might not be the joyous production a lot of kids will enjoy, this film will appeal mostly to the adults whose support has frequently made Pixar the envy of the animation industry. While I doubt that Pixar can easily be supplanted as the best animation house in film history, DreamWorks is making the case that it isn't some fly-by-night, box office-at-all-costs studio like rival Fox.
With the Panda films and How to Train Your Dragon, I'm no longer afraid to sit down to a DreamWorks animated feature expecting to be annoyed by how childish it is, because I'm no longer likely to be so disappointed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2012
First off, a few character studies. The peacock villain, Lord Shen, was obsessed with power. He wanted to rule, and kung fu hindered his greed. His solution is to use a weapon of fire and metal to stop kung fu. He's an outcast son who, by trying to change his future like Oedipus of old, fulfilled it. He's full of bitterness and willing to destroy anything that gets in his way. Po, now the Dragon Warrior, faces two new challenges. One, to find "inner peace." Two, to save kung fu from Shen's "cup that is never full." He's haunted by visions from his past, and travels not only to save kung fu, but also to learn the secrets of his past. His connections with the furious five are growing, and they form a much stronger team. I love it when Po offers Shen the chance to be a new person, and offers forgiveness. How it ends is for you to see. These and other characters were great, and showed off some fun acting. The movie was full of chuckling humor, despite a couple cheesy lines.
The animation was amazing, to say the least. The 3D worked really well, with all the fighting and stunts. I really liked the diverse use of animation, with the 3D, the flat cartoon-like images, and the shadow puppets. The new range of animals, including gorillas, goats, peacocks, and a croc, was very satisfying as well. As in the first film, the fight scenes were wonderfully thought up and animated. In one particular fight scene, the music was timed precisely with each of the blows and bumps, creating a really cool experience. This describes all the music composed for this film by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. I heartily enjoyed all of the music.
Now for the movie's effectiveness as a sequel. Unlike many companies, Dreamworks wisely planned for this movie even before releasing the first, and organized the plot around it. That was a key that made it successful. Plan ahead, far ahead. I love it when a sequel works as this one does. In the plot of saving kung fu, with the subplot of finding out about his past, Po took watchers through a wonderful adventure. They even left a cliffhanger, which gives me hope that they had also planned for a third. However, along with that are a few concerns. First, I worry that they thought up this cliffhanger on the spot, and haven't planned far ahead. I want the third movie to be as much (if not more) of a success as this one was. Second, based on the cliffhanger, it may occur that the third movie takes the focus away from kung fu, and expands the "Po's past" theme to be the main show. This would be a disaster.
Now for my final recommendation. This movie is slightly darker than the first, and is more intense. Not that it isn't for kids anymore. Kids, I believe, will still enjoy this movie, maybe even more than the first. There is no language, and no inappropriate references or behavior. All the humor is clean, and actually funny. It is rated PG by MPAA for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
Loved this movie. It's a rare sequel that's somehow better than its originator. Word of warning if you purchase this copy, however, tinytinytiny print on the back says digital copy code may not be valid after 12/13/2012. Also the Kung Fu Panda World 2 free online game memberships (lower right corner of front of the box) must be redeemed by and expires on 04/30/2012.
Just gotta love how they can make sure to put TM and R next to Blu-Ray and Digital Copy, yet don't flag Digital Copy so a person knows to pull out a magnifying glass for fine print on DC expiring at some point.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
Where do I begin? For starters, I have to say that Kung Fu Panda 2 (formerly called "The Kaboom of Doom") outdid its predecessor in every way, in my opinion, except for maybe laughs. And that's saying a mouthful because I love the first film. Kung Fu Panda is one of my favorite animated films, so I was very eagerly awaiting this one's release. I can honestly say I don't mind the lack of big laughs one bit. I never really found the first very funny either. Its humor cater has always catered more to a demographic that's quite a few years behind me anyway. That being said, I still do laugh a few times whenever I pop the first one in, and not so much with the sequel. Nevertheless, genuine heart fills the void that the lack of substantial comedy left behind. Kung Fu Panda 2 has an extra dosage of emotional oomph that many animated films strive for, but rarely achieve. Meaning it leaves a mark on you, making you feel sorry for our lead, Po (Jack Black). After How To Train Your Dragon, I knew DreamWorks was on the right path to eventually being close to, if not on par with Pixar. Don't get me wrong, I love some of the films in their library, but there's an obvious difference between an everlasting classic film and a simply entertaining one. How To Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda 2 have officially allowed DreamWorks to attain the former two years in a row. Now what's a kung fu movie with exciting fight scenes?
The kung fu is aplenty in Kung Fu Panda 2, and the sequences are spectacular. Needless to say, the action is thrilling. The choreography is very well done, albeit a little difficult to make out the first couple of times you watch the film. I can confidently say that this is one of my favorite kung fu movies. To be fair, I'm not well versed in the subgenre, so maybe m claim means little. The characters are so natural and believable. Top notch voice work by the entire cast. Jack Black really cares about Po, and it shows. His subtly is sublime. Every little nuance in his voice comes through and clearly translates to create our lovable hero Po. These animation studios are really getting good at facial tweaks, especially the eyes. There's so much soul and life behind the characters' eyes. Besides Jack Black, there is a stellar group of names including: Dustin Hoffman returning as the wise Yoda-like Shifu (even down to the walking stick - Master Oogway's staff) , Angelina Jolie as Tigress the fearless leader of the Furious Five, Seth Rogen as Mantis (showing even more growth in his voice work talent), Lucy Liu as Viper, David Cross as Crane, Jackie Chan as Monkey, and James Hong as Mr. Ping, rounding out the returning support. The newcomers are Gary Oldman playing yet another villain to perfection in Shen, the always funny (but more menacing in this case) Danny McBride as the one-eyed Wolf Boss, Dennis Haysbert as a commanding Master Ox, and the only other kung fu legend in the film besides Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Croc.
I'm a big fan of animated movies, and as an artist I took note of the various creative ways that the scenes were painted onto the canvas, or screen. One major strength I loved about Kung Fu Panda was how beautifully they used colors and shapes to tell the story. The sequel is no different. The scenery in this movie pops to perfection in each of its different striking art styles. Be it classic and drawn-esque, or state of the art CGI, this movie is simply a beautiful sight to behold. The color palette is darker than the first because the story is darker. This sequel takes our characters down an Empire Strikes Back, Temple of Doom sort of path. These characters that we grew to love in the light-hearted, fun first entries must then go to new lengths - emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually - in the sequels. In this film, Po get tested in ways that I never expected a character as care-free, adventurous, and fun loving to be. Kung Fu Panda 2 revolves around him learning to master the ancient art of inner peace, a lesson that doesn't come easily to put it lightly. Simply put, I loved it. Once again, the Hans Zimmer and John Powell's score adds a lot to the visuals, which are amazing. We've come to expect nothing short of the best A/V presentations from animated releases, and I am happy to say that Kung Fu Panda 2 delivers. Truly a top notch release in pretty much every department. I highly recommend it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2011
It's been a long time since it was firmly established that Dreamworks and Pixar were the front runners in the animated movie business. Every movie from their boiling pot is a gem, to say the least. In 2008, an unconventional 3D movie burst into theatres with talking animals as per norm, but now we have the Chinese variety. People were skeptical as to how this would turn out, but the makers of the movie, stayed true to the Chinese tradition of movie-making in their depiction of martial arts, and with a cute sprinkling of good old American humor and talented voice acting, this movie was a little more special than the other ones.
As with most of the Dreamworks movies, success demanded a sequel and the producers and writers rose to the occasion and boy, did they deliver. Right off the bat, I would say one thing, `Kung Fu Panda 2' is a better movie than the original in every way.It is in no way a watered down sequel with many missing links and vain attempts at establishing a franchise. This, viewers, is what a sequel should be. This movie is bigger, funnier and more likely to tug at your heartstrings than the previous one.
Ever since the Shrek sequels, Dreamworks has been accused of dumbing down the quality of the sequels with lots of pop culture references and mindless jokes that are only likely to earn a few chuckles. But no one can make that claim anymore. This movie finds its strengths and all its factors : animation, story and action sequences are the best out of Dreamworks' production house.
All of the main cast including the titular Po (Jack Black), the Furious Five and Master Shen are back in this one. Jack Black has really found his footing and a most fitting role for him in the panda. It suits his voice perfectly and fans of the actor may even find both indistinguishable. The Furious Five, this time are a lot warmer to Po, now that he is the Dragon Warrior. Shifu, too, accepts Po to the fullest and tries to teach him how to achieve inner peace.
This sequel follows the time-tested norm of sequels to delve into the main character's past or open up new wounds. The goose as it turns out, is not the biological father of the panda (Oh My God!). Pandas had been prophesized as the ones to defeat the peacock Shen, and so Shen went on a killing spree, harnessing his invention of gumpower to destroy all giant Pandas. Po is a survivor. Faced with this dilemma, Po chooses to stop Shen from destroying Kung Fu with his technology, and must make peace with his past. This stroy resonates the traditional Wuxia genre of China, which you might be familiar with from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The action sequences are masterfully directed in true Hong Kong cinema style. The dialogues are hilarious and consistently uplifting and funny. That does not mean this movie shies away from other emotions. One scene in particular is a tear-jerking one. And when you find such a scene in an Animated "Meant for kids" movie, you know this movie is special. I hate to take the name here, but, Kung Fu Panda just might be Dreamworks' Toy Story. I wouldn't be surprised if this movie snagged the best animated movie award away from Disney/Pixar.
This movie is a must for all ages. If you have a soul, you will not miss this one. Also, watch in 3D. The technology has been used to great effect in this one, so far as to making me say this might be the best 3D movie of the summer.
Author of "Hits and Misses"
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
My kids have quite a collection of movies, as we travel a lot and there is a player in the car. That said, Kung Fu Panda movies are our families favorites. We love Jack Black, and the moral and spiritual undertones of these movies. Kung Fu Panda 2 is, in my opinion, better than the first one. That's saying a lot for me, because I LOVED the first one. My four-year-old could watch this and the first Kung Fu Panda every day, if I would let him. He loves the main character "Po". It is extremely funny and very up-lifting. Anybody who hasn't seen the Kung Fu Panda movies is seriously missing out on two great flicks. All of us love this film and that includes, my husband and I, and four kids; ages 4 to 15.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2011
I'm Progazoid's 13 yr. old daughter and I think that this movie is awesome! I love the characters in it. I think that this movie is much better than the first movie I like how Tigress is so friendly to Po in the second one than she was in the first one. At first I thought that the movie might not be that good because I thought it was weird that the villain was a Peacock! But I found out that it is a very funny,action packed,heartwarming,and a little bit sad too. The only thing that I didn't like about it was that shiffu was my favorite character in the first movie and he's barely in the second movie, but besides that great characters in the movie I love how the furious five are acting more as a family in this movie than the first. I recommend this movie to anybody who wants to sit down and laugh their heads off!