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Kung Fu Panda 2 Review

Simon's Rating: 7.5/10 Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.5/10 (2 reviews total) Upon the reveal of the concept and title for the original Kung Fu Panda, the proverbial weather predicted a 100 percent chance that this DreamWorks Animation offering would boast an infinitely dopey premise, supplying no small shortage of childish humour and grimace-inducing slapstick filler. Not only did that 2008 hit impress critics and audiences with its warmth and pulsating energy, but also the next chapter of Po and friends carries on that tradition. Although it does not to the heights of that rare superior second dose, Kung Fu Panda 2 provides everything we could have hoped for, especially in a sequel-littered summer with no shortage of tired property. The scenery and art direction in “Panda 2” is as stunning as ever. A unique blend of realism exhibited countless times in the fluid fur of the main characters, the elegant natural environment and of course the stylized fictional aesthetics of talking ass-kicking animals. Jack Black again proves he can be better when he is not mugging the camera and turns in another low-key and very funny performance. It also helps that the man has a whip smart script behind him and the returning main cast proves jovial and committed even though many have stunted roles. Replacing John Wayne Stevenson and Mark Osborne as co-directors is the art director and visual effects artist from the first, Jennifer Yuh. The importance of her contribution notwithstanding, she seems to show a knack for direction as the story moves along briskly and without a moment of boredom encroaching. panda2pic After Tai Lung’s defeat at the pudgy hands of one titular panda and the terrifying word “Skadoosh,” a new warlord has again made himself known: Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman), a darkly ambitious peacock who was wronged in the past and brings the modern concept of gunpowder, along with the brute force of an army of wolves, to this kung fu time. Seeking out and killing the masters of said martial art, it is up to the now-Dragon-Warrior Po, his master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and former Furious Five: Mantis, Crane, Tigress, Monkey and Viper (Seth Rogen, David Cross, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan and Lucy Lui respectively). More is at stake however, as Po begins to flash back to his childhood, once and for all realizing his duck father might not be the source of his own flesh and blood. It is this dynamic (and a very sweet one at that), which replaces the underdog and teacher/student relationship of the original and that device does an admirable job. Filling out the edges are even more stunningly choreographed action set pieces that exude dazzle and kineticism not seen since The Incredibles. The characters in this universe have now been revealed, many of the freshest jokes made and the origin tale of Po complete. Only in the slightest sense does the material seem tired with a bit of that nagging feeling present. If anything, I applaud those involved in their choice to not simply create a flimsy carbon copy of the original, or up the slapstick humour to the extent where nobody over the age of eight could tolerate even this sequel's slim runtime. panda12pic Do we want a third? Well, that’s a moot point as DreamWorks has already announced its plans and this brightly coloured summer offering is more than capable of making the scratch necessary to warrant any kind of franchise continuation. In the vein of “Toy Story” and perhaps even “Shrek” before it eroded into decidedly self-referential territory, for once I want more of this series. The original “Kung Fu Panda” is fun, goddamit, and earns a smile upon every viewing, even in its second round. Despite the production being encrusted with A-grade talent, this franchise remains one of the most humble, family friendly and down-to-earth-enjoyable animated properties of recent years. Rating: 7.5/10 Kung Fu Panda 2 Directed by Jennifer Yuh Written by Jonathon Aibel and Glenn Berger Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Angelina Jolie Other Player Affinity Reviews

Julian thought: "Kung Fu Panda isn’t quite as good as its predecessor, but the delightful story of the noodle-loving, kung fu-fighting Panda is still an enjoyable one to watch unfold. The film expertly weaves together a story about Po’s origins and an action-oriented plot where Po and the Furious Five must save the land. What really helps the film stand out from its previous installment, however, is the gorgeous scenery. Locations are heavy in detail, and the score is exquisite. Just like the first film, there are some quite thrilling action sequences that blend urgency with lightheartedness. The sequel’s conclusion leaves room for another installment, and while middling box office results indicate that a third film might not happen, Kung Fu Panda 2 is the kind of follow-up that deserves another sequel." Rating: 7.5/10

Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.5/10   


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