Kung Fu Panda was a surprisingly good film, and this sequel takes everything good about the first one, and expands it. It is a deeper and more complex film but is just as entertaining as the first one. Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson directs and Jack Black reprises his role as Po the Kung Fu Panda. It’s a cool CG movie with lots of action, comedy, and heart.
Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, and Dustin Hoffman all return for the sequel, and Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, and Jean-Claude Van Damme join the voice cast as well. Props must be given to Jennifer Yuh Nelson for directing the highest grossing movie ever for a woman. Being a Korean American, she respects Asian culture and it shows on screen.
The main villain of this movie is an evil peacock tyrant named Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who fears that a panda will one day defeat him. So he kills off all the pandas in China, except for one… the one who would grow up to be Po the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black). Po is living with his goose dad, Mr. Ping, and he begins to question his origins. Ping explains that he found Po in a radish crate when he was a baby, and he adopted him.
Po’s teacher, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) continues training Po, saying that he still has to achieve inner peace. Shifu soon finds out that Lord Shen has returned to power. Shen has a powerful new weapon that is capable of wiping out Kung Fu. It’s up to Po and his animal posse to stop him.
They have a few battles with Shen, and they lose when Po’s past catches up with him. Shen and Po fight and it looks like Shen kills Po. But Po is the Kung Fu Panda and the franchise wouldn’t work without him, and so Po comes back and saves the day, having finally achieved inner peace. Inner peace makes you a more violent and efficient fighter. The movie ends on a cliffhanger, setting things up for a third chapter.
Kung Fu Panda was a fun movie. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a fun movie that is about self-discovery. Po is questioning who he is. His past comes into play. It references the first film while preparing you for the next one. It is the perfect second act in a trilogy. I have high hopes for the next one.
The animation is pretty good. It’s not as impressive as Pixar’s animation, but it serves the story well. The story is improved over the first one. It explores more themes and delves into more complex issues than the first movie.
Jack Black pretty much plays Jack Black in all his movies. When you hear Jack Black but see a fat panda, it is more enjoyable. He has a face made for voiceover.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is on par or perhaps exceeds the original. DreamWorks will never be Pixar, but they still know how to entertain.
Critically Rated at 13/17