KUNG FU PANDA 2
Now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, Po (voice of Jack Black) protects the Valley of Peace with fellow kung fu masters The Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross). Po's mentor, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) tries to impress on his student the importance of inner peace. But Po is a panda trying to sort out the puzzle of his childhood which his father Mr Ping (James Hong) - a goose - is trying to tell him. Meanwhile, there are other things to deal with, namely the emergence of a formidable peacock villain Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), who is intent on using a secret weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Now it is up to Po to discover the secrets of his origins and save China.
Review by Louise Keller:
Cuter and more enjoyable than the first film, this high energy 3D animation from Dreamworks is packed with kung-fu spectacle, exotic Eastern settings, a fuzzy heart and plenty of chuckles. The screenwriters have got it right this time with a simple plot surrounded by colourful, happy chaos. There's nothing new in the central themes mind you, but there's no harm in hearing the universal themes again: believe in yourself, find inner peace, love your family, let the past go and make the right decisions.
Jack Black's lovable and cuddly Panda Po is a wondrous mix of innocence, vulnerability, bravado and confidence and it is his personal journey that is central to the action. The film is filled with visual gags, quirkiness, occasional one liners and an incongruous mix of creatures voiced by high profile stars; it's sure to amuse adults and youngsters alike.
Po is struggling with issues about family and where he comes from. Not surprising, when your father Mr Ping (James Hong) is a goose and you are a tubby panda. The beauty of the moment is that the scene is played absolutely straight as father and son have a heart to heart exchange. This is undoubtedly the film's highlight. Mr Ping, who runs a noodle restaurant, is hilarious and the scene nicely set up, following a sequence in which Po's wise mentor Master Shifu (Hoffman in fine form) counsels him about the importance of finding inner peace. The ever hungry panda with the grumbling tummy meanwhile, is more interested in food. There are also appealing flashbacks in which we meet Po as an adorable little bundle of black and white fluff, arriving on Mr Ping's doorstep in a radish basket. (This is not a spoiler; a panda is not likely to really have a goose as a dad!)
Most of the film is concerned with kick-ass action and Po's mission to save China from the evil and ambitious albino peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). Shen cuts a striking figure with deadly silver feather-daggers and a spectacular tail that fans dramatically and is decorated with red circled eyes. The Furious Five are in on the action with Tigress (Angelina Jolie) most prominent and eager to show her prowess. These sequences are extraordinary technically and Hans Zimmer's music carries us through, like a musical magic carpet.
Innovative ideas and good execution keep us engaged throughout this happy animation as Black's heroic Po saves China and finds inner peace.
First published in the Sun-Herald
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KUNG FU PANDA 2 (PG)
VOICES: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber
PRODUCER: Melissa Cobb
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Yuh
SCRIPT: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
EDITOR: Clare De Chenu
MUSIC: John Powell, Hans Zimmer
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 23, 2011