Kung Fu Panda 2 is a textbook instance of how you can do a sequel proper. It remembers that it’s a second chapter and allows the characters to grow and alter accordingly. It does not make the principle characters be taught the same lesson for the second time, but slightly offers them new obstacles and arcs to beat. It goes larger but remembers to be better at the same time, and it rigorously lays the groundwork for no matter may come subsequent while succeeding as a stand-alone image. It’s a snort-out loud comedy, a thoughtful character drama, and a spectacular adventure. That I do not yet know if it is my favourite Dreamworks cartoon is merely a testament to how far Dreamworks has come as an animation studio.
A token amount of plot: Po (Jack Black) has confirmed himself as the true Dragon Warrior and has taken his rightful place alongside the Furious 5. But a brand new threat emerges in the form of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), who needs to take over China with the assistance of his new final weapon (principally a giant cannon ball). However as Po and the gang confront this new menace, Po is shocked to comprehend that Shen really has ties to Po’s previous. As Po makes an attempt to piece together fragments of his forgotten childhood, Lord Shen makes his move in opposition to China totally conscious that the mythical Dragon Warrior often is the just one who can stop him.
What works finest on this picture is the sense that these characters remember that they lived by means of the primary film. Po and Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) share a deep friendship and a mutual respect, whereas Po no longer has to prove himself to the Furious 5. While Po spent much of the primary movie as a pratfalling clown, right here he is a assured warrior to be reckoned with, and in consequence the comedy is much more low-key and successful. A lot of the comedy is merely gentle mockery of action-film cliches, corresponding to a climactic moment the place Po makes a triumphant speech from a hilltop unaware that no one can hear him. Because the humor is more ingrained inside the motion and drama, it’s that much funnier.
Po’s disaster in this movie is not considered one of ability or self-confidence, but certainly one of identification and family legacy. In the primary film Po had to discover what he’s. In this picture, he must discover who he is and how that defines him as a warrior, as a son, and as a good friend. Jack Black has a lot of the emotional heavy lifting to do that time around (in the first movie, it was Dustin Hoffman who had the emotional arc), and he doesn’t disappoint. Say what you will about his mugging tendencies as a dwell-motion actor, however animation fits him completely, permitting him to tone down his shtick and let the artwork be bigger than life as an alternative. Po will likely go down as Jack Black’s greatest and most interesting character.
Of the remainder of the forged, Gary Oldman and James Hong shine brightest. Hoffman has much much less screentime in comparison with the first film, but he does profit from it. James Hong, a certified nationwide treasure, continues to shine as Po’s adopted father and his relationship with Po is what gives the film its beating heart. As evidenced in the first film, this film, and even in the terrific Thanksgiving Tv particular from last November, the lengthy-term story goes to be one of the fixed battle between being a accountable adult and being there for your loved ones, and Hong makes us care about that real conflict.
Gary Oldman plays the villain of the piece, and like the first image, his murderous antagonist is given a compelling again story that includes beloved ones attempting and failing to stop a young man’s descent into evil. The first film’s villain dropped at mind Anakin Skywalker (a flawed pupil whose teachers couldn’t control him). Lord Shen feels modeled after the likes of Kip Kinkel, as his Shen’s mother and father tried and failed to tame his darkness and then have been pressured to lock him away when his actions surpassed even their worst fears. In the present, Shen’s arc is a darker variation on the Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons. It is unblinkingly thoughtful material for a household-friendly cartoon, however Oldman’s character work pays off ultimately.
The remainder of the cast frankly does not get all that much to do. Like the primary movie, the Furious 5 is principally regulated to Po’s back up crew, and Angelina Jolie gets the lion-share of dialogue amongst them. Jean Claude Van Damme and Dennis Haysbert have temporary cameos as imprisoned lords who consider that surrender is the higher selection when fighting again might imply the slaughter of their people. Shen has a surprisingly layered relationship with a Soothesayer, played with grace by Michelle Yeoh. Whereas not each character gets their moment to shine, all of them work flawlessly as an ensemble solid, which provides the emotional oomph to the gorgeous motion sequences. There is a moment in direction of the top the place we notice what a strong ensemble this series has created, and there’s loads of room to develop these characters in later chapters.
If the film has a flaw, it is that there is nearly an excessive amount of motion (there are around three false endings). But almost each set piece scores in a visceral and narrative sense. While the primary movie was an origin story that had only a handful of fight sequences, the sequel is a full-blown action image. The varied fights, chases, and genuinely epic confrontations are all gloriously properly-choreographed and staged, with a full sense of area and time throughout, plus emotional stakes that make them matter. There isn’t a must spoil the various set-items, only to say that they are so visually dynamic that I would almost recommend seeing it in 3D.
Oh sure, about that complete 3D-conundrum. Dreamworks made it trickier for you this time. Let me put it this fashion: The film will surely work simply as well in 2D, but when you’re inclined to splurge, you’ll get your money’s value seeing Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D (or IMAX 3D). Even my wife, who loathes 3D as a matter of precept, was impressed by the excessive-flying results work on show. The animation is, per usual, eye-poppingly gorgeous, and the cityscapes and mountain tops look three-dimensional with or with out the glasses. There are several flashbacks in the image, and practically every one makes use of a unique animation style and visual look (the opening prologue is principally a Chinese language shadow puppet show), which works each stylistically and narratively. It is a simply gorgeous-trying movement picture from starting to finish.
Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s Kung Fu Panda 2 is a really beautiful film in each approach. It is a visually dynamic journey story, with low-key comedy that enhances the inherently sober drama. The dynamic and exciting motion sequences will probably rank among the many 12 months’s best. Jack Black and Gary Oldman play effectively off of each other, whereas Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, and Michelle Yeoh convey real class to the proceedings. It’s considerate, moving, and endlessly entertaining. It’s a textbook instance of learn how to do a sequel that broadens the world whereas maintaining the core mythology intact. Jeffrey Katzenberg has claimed that he wants six Kung Fu Panda films. If this first sequel is any indication, Yuh and her storytelling crew know precisely what they are doing and where they’re going with this story. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a terrific stand-alone movie and a taking-off point for what might be a wonderful animated fable.