Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2 Review

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a 2011 DreamWorks animated action comedy film directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Gary Oldman. It is a solid, albeit inferior sequel to the very good 2008 original.

Po must fight a new villain while discovering about his past and how he ended up in the Valley of Peace in the first place. This is an expected territory for the sequel and though very typical and familiar and even lazy, I still liked it overall because it has great attention to detail and is consistent. Po’s past is hinted at in the first movie, he learns about it in this second film and he is finally going to meet his father in the third one. I liked that structure as it works well as a trilogy and I hope it stays as such.

However, while I liked the overall storyline, I still disliked its excessive use of humor and action above character development and story. You get introduced solidly to the new villain, but the first act is still lacking and the second act in particular was quite boring and it had too much action. But the third act is an improvement with some memorable moments and a great conclusion that wonderfully makes you excited for the sequel. Now, my favorite moments have to be Po’s dialogue with his adoptive father near the end as it is so heartwarming and the sequence in which Po finally masters the new move is visually breathtaking and so well realized.

Speaking of Po, he was better realized this time around, but I still found his sense of humor and his personality annoying. But he got much development and his backstory is well explained. Mr. Ping is wonderful as his father and he is so likable and sympathetic and the relationship between the two was definitely the highlight for me. Master Shifu was ok, but much better utilized before. And the rest of the warriors unfortunately got even lesser screen time this time around which was so frustrating. Lord Shen is once again a joke of a villain, even more so this time around. Yes, he is visually interesting, has great action movements and has a backstory which is great in terms of characterization, but he is still a peacock which was a ridiculous choice for a villain in the first place and his daddy issues are pathetic and he was like that himself in the end.

Kung Fu Panda 2 once again has a terrific voice cast. Jack Black is good as is Hoffman, Jolie and especially James Hong in the great role of Mr. Pong. But the new addition of Gary Oldman to this cast proved to be a great choice as his voice fits the character and he did such a good job with the role.

The animation is really good. It is colorful and even when it’s dark, the light is well realized and it leads to great visuals. It is always wonderful to look at, but it is still such an inferior animation to that in the first Kung Fu Panda because there are no greater, majestic moments and the artistry is lessened to some degree. The same goes for the score which is much weaker this time around and that was very frustrating to me.

But the imagery in Kung Fu Panda 2 is once again great with some fine interiors as well. It is well directed, but the editing is weak and the action is overly present. It is again very well executed, but there should have been less of it and unfortunately not a single action sequence is unforgettable such as, for instance, the bridge sequence in the original.

And the humor remains the problem in this sequel as well. You get one extraordinary action or dramatic scene and afterwards you are quickly reminded that this is an American kiddie fare with some stupid punch line and some ridiculous slapstick. Yes, some of it is funny with the jokes regarding Po’s father being hilarious, but most of it isn’t as it is over-reliant on the panda’s excessive weight and stupid action slapstick that kills the tone that should have been more serious and more mature. But the film is emotional and I liked its baskstories and flashbacks as they flesh the characters and give answers. But it is still predictable and not at all original. And the dialogue is solid and the film has many great scenes and is very well concluded.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is undoubtedly inferior to its predecessor. Whereas Kung Fu Panda had a better story and much more inspired animation and especially action, this one has more character development and more story developments, but overall is definitely lacking. But the two share the same problems which are the predictable storylines and typical humor and this sequel is certainly a solid effort from DreamWorks that isn’t that worse and is definitely a solid flick, especially for a sequel. I just hope the third one is going to be the same.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is definitely inferior to the original film due to less interesting action sequences and not as inspired animation, but the plot is solid with nice flashbacks and backstories and the voice cast once again did a fine job and some scenes are phenomenal with the conclusion being intriguing. It is a weaker, but still solid sequel that has its moments.

My Rating – 3.5

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