Written by Linda Grant – NYCSinglemom.com
Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan are back in Kung Fu Panda 2, the delightful, funny and touching sequel to Kung Fu Panda.
Po (Jack Black) now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie); Monkey (Jackie Chan); Mantis (Seth Rogen); Viper (Lucy Liu); and Crane (David Cross) joins forces with a group of new kung-fu masters, Master Storming Ox (Dennis Haysbert) and Master Croc (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to take on a formidable villain, Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who has a deadly new weapon aimed at conquering China and destroying kung fu.
Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened and must look to his past to uncover how he came to be the son of Mr. Ping (James Hong) and in doing so unlocks the strength he needs to succeed. Can he do it?
What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 2:
- Jack Black as Po – What is there to say? Jack Black, voicing Po is just plain laugh out loud funny and is as funny as he was in the original Kung Fu Panda. Kids just love his intonation and let’s face it as my daughter said after seeing the movie “Awesome and Double Awesomeness.”
- The Po Character - Everything about his character from the way he is drawn, his funny little shorts, his big panda belly, the snappiness of his delivery and his slapstick manner pretty much makes the movie. Funny doesn’t even come close to describing his character, he’s hilarious.
- The Dynamics Amongst Po and The Furious Five - All the funny Furious Five comments from the stoic Tigress (yes, Angelina Jolie can be funny) to the nuanced humor of Crane (David Cross) and even Monkey (Jackie Chan and I don’t even think Jackie Chan is funny) are funny. They way Po interacts with each of the Furious Five keeps the movie humming along and without the snap crackling dialogue, the plot would be dead in the water.
- The Adoption Storyline - In the first movie, the question of how Mr. Ping, a goose is the father of Po, a panda is never addressed. In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po realizes he can’t be Mr. Ping’s son and asks how Mr. Ping came to be his father. Questions like “Where did I come from? How did I get here?” plague him. His father doesn’t have a lot of answers and Po will spend much of the movie trying to answer these burning questions and when it is resolved, will change his relationship with his “father” forever. Po’s resolution scene with Mr. Ping actually made me cry. For me, the adoption storyline, really hit home as my daughter is adopted and the questions Po asks, are questions that will come to be more prominent as my daughter gets older. The storyline really does emphasize that families come in all shapes and sizes and what drives home the question of what “makes a parent a parent.”
- The Chinese Landscape and Architecture - I have traveled to China and the one thing you come away with is how breathtaking the countryside and the architecture is. The movie producers really took great care to showcase a truly beautiful and ancient world. I was in awe of the scenery of the movie and it brought me back to my time in China. The enormous pagoda that is Lord Shen’s headquarters was truly amazing. From the color of the whole film, the lighting, the artwork and even the snowflakes were magnificent. Kudos to the Art Director.
- Subtle exposure to Chinese culture, martial arts and legend – It is pretty subtle but the movie does expose our children to a country that is richly steeped in legends, historical significance, and great beauty.
What I did not like about Kung Fu Panda 2:
- 3-D - I will admit that I did not have to take my 3-D glasses off and on throughout the movie and yes, there were many scenes that were enhanced by 3-D but I really do think that movie would still be visually beautiful and have the same impact without the 3-D. That said, I happened to see the movie at a fully digital 3-D theater (Regal Cinemas on 42nd Street) which I think makes a difference in 3-D viewing.
- A Tad too Much Violence - Yes, the violence and the wonderful animated fight sequences are a part of the storyline but there were a few scenes that could have been cut short by a few minutes. That said, it did not seem to bother my daughter.
Will kids love this movie? You betcha! My daughter loved this movie, saying it was “double awesomeness.” She just loves Jack Black and can’t wait to see the movie again.
Do I recommend the movie? Yes and be forewarned, there will be a Kung Fu Panda 3 and how I do know this, the last scene sets the stage for sequel.