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Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

May. 25, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Po (Jack Black) the Panda is back, and this time he must do battle with Lord Shen (the great Gary Oldman); an evil Ostrich looking to conquer China.

REVIEW: KUNG FU PANDA was a film that actually kind of caught me off guard when I was sent to review it a few years ago. Call me pretentious, but I just didn't expect a heck of a lot from a film featuring the voice of Jack Black as a kung fu-fighting Panda, complete with Carl Douglas' overplayed Kung Fu Fighting dominating the soundtrack. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the film, which played as an affectionate (and knowledgeable) homage to the old-school Shaw Bros., and Jackie Chan kung fu films I adore. Granted, it wasn't perfect, but I dug it, and when I heard a second film was in the works, I was keen to check it out.


The sequel picks up a few years after part one, with Po now leading the Furious Five, including Angelina Jolie's Tigress and Jackie Chan's Monkey (although he only gets about half a dozen lines of dialogue this go round). His master, Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is trying to put his pupil on the path toward finding inner peace, but this quest is tossed aside when Oldman's Lord Shen develops a doomsday weapon to enslave China. Oh yeah, and he may also have led a genocide against Pandas, with Po's parents being among his victims. Pretty dark territory for a kiddie flick, right?

Fear not, KUNG FU PANDA 2 is still essentially a lighthearted affair, although I appreciate the effort that's been made to give it a bit more of an emotional kick this time around, which is more than the last few SHREK films ever tried to accomplish. PANDA 2 is just about as much fun as the first film, with lots of laughs and action peppered into the brisk ninety minute run time. Fight film fans will get a kick out of some of the vocal cameos (including Jean Claude Van Damme as a kung fu fighting Alligator).


Apparently, there's an outline for four more installments in the series, and that seems readily apparent here, with it planting a lot of seeds that might pay off in future installments, particularly the relationship between Po and Tigress (I wonder if an inter-species love story is out of the question?). My only issue with this being one of a number of planned sequels, is that this feels less like a self contained adventure, and more like a chapter in a larger story, which is something that always bothers me a bit in sequels (that's the major issue I had with the last IRON MAN).

Nonetheless, that's a fairly minor criticism as far as this film is concerned, and I still enjoyed PANDA 2 about as much as I enjoyed it predecessor. One thing's for certain, Po is the perfect role for Jack Black, who I'd argue hasn't made a good live-action film in years, but nails it when made into a CGI panda. His shtick can get a bit old in films like GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, but in KUNG FU PANDA? Bring it on!


I also like the look of the film, which can old be described as candy-colored Shaw Bros, and comes off extremely well in the requisite 3D. Another plus is the great score by Hans Zimmer and John Powell, which has an affectionately old-school Kung Fu Theater vibe, and for once doesn't feature any shout outs to Carl Lewis (thank the Lord!).

Overall, KUNG FU PANDA 2 is a good time, and guaranteed to please anyone who liked the first film. While it's nowhere near Pixar level (nor does it compare to top-tier Dreamworks animation, like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON), it's leagues better than the last few SHREK films, and a rare 3D film which won't give you a headache.

Source: JoBlo.com

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10:38PM on 05/28/2011
Is it wrong that I'm not opposed to the aforementioned inter species love story?
Is it wrong that I'm not opposed to the aforementioned inter species love story?
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+1
8:37PM on 05/28/2011

Saw it with My Daughter This Morn

IMHO, better than the first but not much. The action was better and the story seemed more solid to me. Dug the main villain of the first one but Oldman rules in this one as a very different breed of bad guy (think more nasty but less of a tough guy ... sneaky bugger). We liked the wolves as bad guys too and the heart is in this one a bit more than the first one.

Well done Dreamworks ... and yes, I am a Pixar mark!
IMHO, better than the first but not much. The action was better and the story seemed more solid to me. Dug the main villain of the first one but Oldman rules in this one as a very different breed of bad guy (think more nasty but less of a tough guy ... sneaky bugger). We liked the wolves as bad guys too and the heart is in this one a bit more than the first one.

Well done Dreamworks ... and yes, I am a Pixar mark!
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+4
3:03AM on 05/26/2011
Holy hell, a positive mention of 3D on Joblo. Satan must be reaching for his winter jacket.
Holy hell, a positive mention of 3D on Joblo. Satan must be reaching for his winter jacket.
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10:18PM on 05/25/2011
Looking forward to this more than Hangover. As a matter of face I am not looking forward to Hangover at all...I loved the first Panda more for it's style and Chinese setting but it still was tons of fun. Hope this is more of the same!
Looking forward to this more than Hangover. As a matter of face I am not looking forward to Hangover at all...I loved the first Panda more for it's style and Chinese setting but it still was tons of fun. Hope this is more of the same!
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6:27PM on 05/25/2011
Checkin it out this weekend!
Checkin it out this weekend!
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4:28PM on 05/25/2011

Whoa

anyone else notice how the past 5 or so Joblo reviews have given the movie in question a score that matches almost perfectly to its rotten tomatoes score? this is just one more example. Kung Fu Panda 2 got a 7 out of 10 on joblo, and is currently sitting at 73% on rotten tomatoes. fast five was another one that was eerily similar, as was pirates 4, and I know there were a couple more. maybe just a strange coincidence? is Joblo just on the pulse of the movie going public's conscience when it
anyone else notice how the past 5 or so Joblo reviews have given the movie in question a score that matches almost perfectly to its rotten tomatoes score? this is just one more example. Kung Fu Panda 2 got a 7 out of 10 on joblo, and is currently sitting at 73% on rotten tomatoes. fast five was another one that was eerily similar, as was pirates 4, and I know there were a couple more. maybe just a strange coincidence? is Joblo just on the pulse of the movie going public's conscience when it comes to taste in movies?
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4:22PM on 05/25/2011
Glad to see a Dreamworks movie getting positive reviews again. Though I always have to ask myself, What exactly do you mean by "not up to Pixar standards"? Apparently a movie is better automatically just for the simple reason that it has the Pixar name attached. You watch, Cars 2 will get an 8, by default.
Glad to see a Dreamworks movie getting positive reviews again. Though I always have to ask myself, What exactly do you mean by "not up to Pixar standards"? Apparently a movie is better automatically just for the simple reason that it has the Pixar name attached. You watch, Cars 2 will get an 8, by default.
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6:28PM on 05/25/2011
totally agree for the most part, but you're gonna get a bajillion thumbs down on this comment I bet. lol
totally agree for the most part, but you're gonna get a bajillion thumbs down on this comment I bet. lol
8:21PM on 05/25/2011
Word on that. I usually dig on Pixar, but Cars did nothing for me. Who built all the buildings? Nobody has thumbs! C'mon!
Word on that. I usually dig on Pixar, but Cars did nothing for me. Who built all the buildings? Nobody has thumbs! C'mon!
+2
4:16PM on 05/25/2011

Good To Hear

I was on the fence about seeing the sequal; I really enjoyed the first one but was uncertain the second could match up. Glad to hear it's not a huge drop off from the first, psyched to see it now. Thanks!
I was on the fence about seeing the sequal; I really enjoyed the first one but was uncertain the second could match up. Glad to hear it's not a huge drop off from the first, psyched to see it now. Thanks!
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+3
4:12PM on 05/25/2011

can't wait

sure all the Pixar fanboys won't give it a chance or say it's worse than it actually is, no one can stop them from doing so, but the first one was great, and I can't wait to see this one. The 3D I've heard is absolutely fantastic as well... should be a good time at the theatre!
sure all the Pixar fanboys won't give it a chance or say it's worse than it actually is, no one can stop them from doing so, but the first one was great, and I can't wait to see this one. The 3D I've heard is absolutely fantastic as well... should be a good time at the theatre!
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