Movie Review: ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’


‘Kung Fu Panda 2’

Davalyn Stepzinski

The release this week, available in the Media Center (lower level, room 2) of Parks Library, is the 2011 film “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

I never saw the Panda films the first time around, so I recently watched both of them to see what I was missing. Turns out I missed a lot; these movies are cute as all get-out.

To recap, the whimsical story behind the first “Kung Fu Panda” film to begin this franchise is that the goofy, but sincere panda Po (Jack Black) who dreamed of learning the art of Kung Fu miraculously gets his wish and becomes the Dragon Warrior, or in basic sense, a fancy Kung Fu master supreme to his idols Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross). The story continues in this film in the conventional style: a new villain is quickly introduced, a vengeful peacock named Shen (Gary Oldman), out to conquer China and vanquish the art of Kung Fu with his explosive new weapon. While Po and aforementioned five, also known as The Furious Five, work together to stop Shen, Po learns and deals with his past, before he met Mr. Ping (James Hong) and attempted to share his love of noodles.

I have a special place in my heart for well-crafted animated movies, because they rarely get much credit in a serious context. They have to dance the line between childish and mature, for either extreme will create disinterest among its family viewers. Obviously the film must be for the little ones, but if there is nothing in it for the adults in the audience, you can bet they’re all asleep if not completely zoned out except when keeping tabs on their youngsters. This film has a nice balance with playful jokes, fast pace, lovely casting choices, and the general fun it exudes. One of the best things about these films is its ability to take some of the traditional gags of the genre and turn them on their head.

The animation is quite stunning as well, particularly the style adopted to present flashback sequences. It distinguishes between the present and past beautifully, while showing us the versatility of Dreamworks. They even continue this style into the ending credit sequence, which is generally the basic black screen with rolling white titles and names appropriately corresponding. We’re usually just lucky we can even read them, if we choose to even sit through the whole thing (which I highly recommend you get into the habit of doing if you want to make sure you didn’t miss the “Easter Egg,” or possible extra scene at the end of film). Both these films however have chosen to revolt against that, transforming it into a nice continuation of the story set to the soundtrack of the film.

So in so many words, I recommend “Kung Fu Panda 2” and its predecessor highly.

Both films are available at Parks Library Media Center and have some special features to browse.

Currently available?

For more information, check out IMDb: