Add another to the “good sequels list.”
In Kung Fu Panda 2, we once again follow the character Po (Black), the giant panda who became a kung fu master after finding that he was the prophesied ‘Dragon Warrior.’ Now Po lives with the other ‘Furious Five’ fighters as well as their master Shifu (Hoffman) where they are constantly fighting against bandits and the like, keeping the nearby villages safe.
Meanwhile, a new enemy arises, a Peacock named Shen played by Gary Oldmann. Shen has discovered the powers of gunpowder and plans to use them to rule all of China, and the first place he takes over is his city where he was born into royalty and was exiled. Upon finding out that Shen has taken over the city, Po and the Furious Five are sent to deal with the problem, however Shen has a bigger past with Po then the protagonist realizes.
Kung Fu Panda 2 does exactly what a good sequel should, keep the essence of the original but expand on it. The film does this through it’s characters, story and scope. The story is on a much grander scale and has more epic feel to it. The plot has a good pace and it never stops being fun and enjoyable.
There’s also a new level of depth explored in the story. Elements such as Po’s real parents and coming to terms with who he is are put beautifully on screen.
The characters here are great. One of the better part of sequels is that most of the time when all the characters return the chemistry between them is already built up, this is apparent in this film as Po and the Furious Five are all good friends and teammates in battle. The friendships seem real and it helps the film.
Po once again makes for a good protagonist, and it is especially great this time as he is actually a kung fu warrior and can kick some ass. Jack Black probably does his best work in a while in this film. The rest of the performances were done well also, I’m not always a fan of celebrity voice actors but it works here. My only complaint is that a few of them may have been a bit overshadowed.
Major credit has to be given to Oldman, who played a wonderful villain in Shen. He was stoic, smart, cold and calculating. At the same time, Oldman was able to deliver a bit of humor that fit with his character’s impatience. The animators also did a good job bringing Shen to life, especially since he had such a unique fighting style.
The comedy was a great factor in the movie, I found myself laughing at quite a few of the jokes in the movie whether they were witty or more on the slapstick end. Po’s nonchalant and aloof attitude once again really contrast with many of the other characters in the film making for some good comedic moments.
The action was a major highlight in the film. In fact the 3D was actually worth it in this one, and that’s something I very rarely ever say. The fight scenes were well choreographed and looked phenomenal on screen. The animation team themselves deserve a pat on the back, the world is very colorful and vibrant.
Overall, Kung Fu Panda 2 is a great sequel that has everything a sequel needs. The action is exciting and the humor is funny, add on top of that the characters who are really lovable, maybe even more so than in the first puts this film at a 5 out of 5.