Kung Fu Panda 2
dir Jennifer Yuh Nelson
prd Melissa Cobb
scr Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berge
voices Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Michelle Yeoh, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Haysbert, Victor Garber
release US 26.May.11, UK 1.Jun.11
11/US DreamWorks 1h30
Kung Fu Panda 2
Out of control: Po with Monkey and Tigress

black jolie oldman
Kung Fu Panda (2008) Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Kung Fu Panda 2 Jack Black's cuddly alter-ego is back for another epic adventure in this lively, colourful sequel. It pretty much has the same plot as the final act of the 2008 original, and it's not quite as funny, but it's beautifully animated and thoroughly engaging.

Now that Dragon Warrior panda Po (voiced by Black) has joined the Furious Five (Jolie's tigress, Rogen's mantis, Chan's monkey, Liu's viper and Cross' crane), there's peace in the valley again. But in a distant kingdom, the villainous peacock Lord Shen (Oldman) has developed a secret weapon with which he plans to take over China and put an end to kung fu. Although he's been rattled for decades, since his soothsayer (Yeoh) told him he'll be conquered by a panda. And he knows the Dragon Warrior is on his way.

As before, the film's main joke is that Po is a food-obsessive lazybones, although he's also now a formidable fighter, which kind of undermines the gag. So the screenwriters instead try to develop his relationship with Tigress while cranking up his daddy issues. He was of course raised by a noodle-cooking goose (James Hong), and Po now learns that his past is linked, Voldemort-style, with Lord Shen, who has daddy issues of his own.

None of these things are developed, but at least they give the characters motivation, and there are hints that this element will open the door to more revelations in Part 3. While it's consistently amusing, the writers could have developed the comedy much further while giving the side characters something to do (Chan, Liu and Cross have about two lines each in the whole film). All of this makes the voice performances feel somewhat subdued.

On the other hand, the vividly textured 3D animation is a great leap forward. Action scenes are fiery and colourful, with complicated battle tactics that are both funny and thrilling. And the flashback animation is gorgeous. The film is best when it plays with the geography and architecture of China, and less interesting when the fighting takes place in another scaffold-filled warehouse. It may not be as sharp as the first film, but this franchise still has a lot of promise.

cert pg themes, violence 22.May.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall