1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A mostly disappointing sequel,
This review is from: Kung Fu Panda 2 (DVD)
The original Kung Fu Panda movie gets five stars and ranks among my favorite animated films despite what some have called a formulaic storyline. It combines a well-executed story with heart, impressive animation, creative action scenes, strong characters voiced by a great cast, and is topped off with a lush score by Hans Zimmer. I was happy when I heard there was going to be a sequel.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a decent movie, but, sadly, feels more like an attempt to cash in on the success of its predecessor than an honest effort to craft another fine tale from the elements of the first. We are quickly shown a backstory, using 2D animation, to get us to the central conflict of the story, which, strangely, seems like an indirect threat to our heros at best and someone else's problem at worst. Gone from this sequel's storyline is a theme worthy of the original's: "There is no secret ingredient--it's just you." That thoughtful subtext was cleverly arrived at through two story elements: The secret-ingredient soup and the film's MacGuffin--the Dragon Scroll. In KFP2, we're treated to Po's journey for "inner peace"--which really just falls in his lap at the end rather than developing naturally from his experiences in the film. There is a side story about Po's attempt to find out who his biological family is, which helps flesh out his backstory. However, the development of the other characters is more shallow this time around; the villain especially feels underdeveloped. Even the humor falls short of the original. The animation looks very good, but there's nothing to top the creatively choreographed action of the first, such as Tai Lung's exciting jail-break or Po's showdown with him later.
In checking KFP2's credits, I see that the screenwriters are the same as for the original, but there's a new director: Jennifer Yuh, who is a relative newcomer to directing. It's hard to say if the blame falls with her or with the screenwriters who were just unable to capture lightning in a bottle for a second time. KFP2's ending suggests we're in for a third installment. I'm hopeful a third film will have a lot more of the magic found in the first one.