Kung Fu Panda 2
Review by Jack Foley
IT MAY lack the awesomeness of the original but Kung Fu Panda 2 is still a fun ride that provides solid entertainment for kids of all ages.
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and reuniting most of the original voice cast, as well as newcomers Gary Oldman and Dennis Haysbert, the sequel heightens the action without compromising the characters we’ve come to love.
Set a little after the events of the original, the film finds Po (voiced by Jack Black) embracing his new status as warrior king while attempting to find inner peace.
This latter quest is threatened by the arrival of a new threat to China in the form of Shen (Oldman), a peacock warlord with parent issues who was responsible for making Po a panda orphan years earlier.
Hence, Po must uncover his true identity and unlock the truth behind his past while finding the strength to overcome his powerful new nemesis.
As with the original movie, Yuh’s sequel works on many levels, whether it’s the spectacular animation (which mixes traditional hand-drawn scenes for flashbacks with cutting edge 3D), rousing set pieces or talented voice cast.
Black continues to bring an endearing quality to Po, as well as a self deprecating sense of humour, and a vulnerability that neatly offsets his more kick-ass tendencies, while Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Seth Rogen all have moments (or gags) to shine.
Oldman, as the obligatory British voiced villain, also brings OTT charisma to Shen.
The action, too, is well choreographed and fun (including a memorable Pac-man homage around a city street), while the humour gives rise to several laugh out loud situations.
If the freshness has gone, then the film compensates by investing time in the continued evolution of the characters, while simultaneously leaving enough to be discovered for a potential third film.
Indeed, the only criticisms stem from some of the less subtle commentaries on family and identity, which though not quite overdone still feel laboured.
But in most other respects, and bearing the target audience in mind, this proves to be a more than worthy successor to its glorious predecessor.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 14, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Triplke Play) (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Jack Black interview
- Jennifer Yuh Nelson interview
- Kung Fu Panda 2 UK Premiere Photos
- Kung Fu Panda coverage