May 27, 2011 8:02:38 pm
Director:Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Voiced by Jack Black,Angelina Jolie,Gary Oldman,Dustin Hoffman,Seth Rogen,Jackie Chan,Lucy Liu,Michelle Yeoh
The noodle-lovin,belly-fat jigglin kung fu warrior is back,this time to ask the big questions : Who am I? Where do I come from? And,of course,to beat back another nasty villain. The combo is irresistible. ‘Kung Fu Panda 2 gets a little darker and slushier than the first,but never loses sight of its objective : fun,fun,fun. The animation is outstanding,and the story has enough surprises to make it new.
In these days of soggy sequels,it is comforting to know that at least some people get it right. The first Panda had set the agenda briskly and clearly : that there would be a cuddly roly poly panda who would some day become the kung fu king. And thats exactly what happens. Po ( Black) leaves his father,a kindly goose who cooks the best stinky tofu in the universe,and goes off to become a martial arts expert. With a little bit of help from wise master Shifu ( Hoffman),and the five contenders for the Warrior Number One throne : Tigress,Viper,Crane,Mantis and Monkey,Po defeats a wily enemy and everyone goes home happy.
The new film has Po dealing with abandonment issues,and going after Lord Shen ( Oldman),a peacock who uses his feathers like knives. To make a peacock a baddie is a smart move : we admire their stunning plumage so much that we often forget how unpleasantly raucous they can be. All the characters from the original are back,but Tigress ( Jolie) gets the meatiest return. She has a vigorous punch up with Po,which starts with him getting slammed into walls,and ends in a hug : could there be something tender brewing here? Sadly,Shifu has a tinier comeback,even though an early scene where he teaches the excitable Po the real meaning of ‘inner peace,is a marvel. And Jack Black invests Po with so much life,that we take him home with us.
I have a sneaking fondness for the villain ( Tai Lung the snow leopard) in the first Panda,and found Shen more a preener than a menacer. But like all good bad guys,he knows more about Pos tantalizing back-story than we do,which makes you forgive this ones crowded,confused canvas ( too many characters,too many scenes involving scurrying,growling wolves). We are left with a fitting thread for the third Panda movie,in which Po is sure to get some more answers. And maybe have a reunion with his ‘real parents : those of us familiar with Bollyland can tell those guys who are making these movies that you cant beat a long-lost son meeting his ever lovin mother.
Dont worry at all if you cant see this one in 3D,with its dark,cumbersome glasses. ‘Kung Fu Panda 2 is equally,if not more,enjoyable in 2D.
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