Not all of DreamWorks’s films have deserved sequels. Shark Tale, Bee Movie, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Megamind certainly did not, and I personally don’t think Madagascar warranted a trilogy, plus an upcoming movie centered on the Penguins. Yet Kung Fu Panda held promise and untapped questions that could be further explored in future films, the most obvious being “Why is Po’s father a goose?”
The tragic answer to that question, which Kung Fu Panda 2 provides, gives the film much more heart than its predecessor. While the first movie had some minor awww-worthy character development surrounding Shifu’s relationship with Tai Lung and Tigress, the pathos was relegated to pretty much one scene, with the rest of the film busy with humor, action, training, worrying, lesson learning, and the like. In Kung Fu Panda 2, the emotions take center stage as an integral part of the plot and the history of both Po and Shen. I like how the Furious Five have clearly warmed up to the chubby panda, even if they remain underdeveloped as characters. Yet the scene in which Po’s mother leaves him and lures away the wolves blows away anything in the first film, and the poignant exchanges between Po and his goose father should touch anyone, whether they have a connection with adoption or not.
All that is to say that this sequel has pretty much all the same ingredients as the first one: an all-star cast, a mix of animation styles, some funny lines, awkward moments, thrilling action set pieces (I particularly love the collapse of the giant pagoda), and another great villain (gleefully voiced by Gary Oldman). But the moments of sentiment are what make it a better film, in my opinion. Here’s looking forward to Kung Fu Panda 3 (and the much closer How to Train Your Dragon 2).
Best line: (the goat soothsayer, speaking to Po and anyone with a less-than-ideal childhood) “Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 7 Originality: 6 Watchability: 6 Other (I just like other films better): -7 TOTAL: 32 out of 60
Next: #287: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
© 2014 S. G. Liput