Monday, January 25, 2016

Movie Review: "Kung Fu Panda 2" (2011)

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Movie"Kung Fu Panda 2"
Director: Jennifer Yuh
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

After being banished from his homeland, a peacock named Shen (Gary Oldman) returns with a new weapon to take revenge. Now, Po (Jack Black) and the Furious Five must stop him. However, Shen has a deadly link to Po's past, one Po must uncover to truly understand where he came from. 

For all of our readers who caught our review of the original "Kung Fu Panda," you know we weren't overly fond of it (we don't think it's bad, it's just not all that great). Now, this doesn't happen very often, but "Kung Fu Panda 2" is one of those rare cases where the sequel is far more enjoyable than the original. Jack Black returns to voice main character Po, and even though he is now a full-fledged kung fu master, he is, in many ways, still the same old Po. He has a penchant for bumbling things up a bit, but is still his fat lovable self. Now, he is also an awesome kung fu fighter who can kick some serious butt. Also returning and lending their voices for this sequel are Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, and David Cross as The Furious Five, as well as Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, though Hoffman's role is much less substantial than that of the first movie. These eclectic voices bring together lots of characters who have now all accepted Po as he is and proudly fight beside him as part of a greater team. New to the cast as the villainous peacock Shen is Gary Oldman, the perfect choice for this character. Shen wants to exact revenge and reclaim his throne after being banished by his parents after he tried to kill all the pandas in China. As the profacy foretold, only one would stand in his way. Gary Oldman is great as Shen, and his voice is always perfect for a villain, be it in a live action movie or an animated one.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" is much more exciting and action-packed than its predecessor. We feel like the original simply built characters and sacrificed excitement in many places, but this sequel sure makes up for it. It also packs a much more powerful emotional punch towards the middle to end of the film. Of course, it being an animated movie for kids, it yet still remains humorous with tons of lighthearted fun. The story is much better, too, as the intriguing new bad guy lends way to some serious entertainment. As Shen uses technology to develop cannons to help him defeat kung fu masters who stand in his way this allows for an old world versus new world dynamic. The old school kung fu warriors must find a way to defeat what appears to be unbeatable in the face of great adversity. We also get more insight into Po's past and find out where he came from, which is both heartwarming and furthers the series along a nice, neat path. The story of how a goose like Mr. Ping, voiced by James Hong, became the father of a panda is really quite a touching, even when laced with noodle jokes. In the end, "Kung Fu Panda 2" is quite a large step up from the original installment, at least for us, anyway. It actually makes us a lot more interested in seeing where the third film will take us when it is released on January 29, 2016.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death"

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