If I have my say, “Kung Fu Panda” was the most beautiful animation film that ever comes out from Dreamworks’ animation kitchen and this second installment held true to that distinction and even more polished than the previous one. Although quite honestly I don’t find it as much fun as the first film was, probably because it’s theme is slightly darker, I liked the direction of this sequel. At first, given by its trailers, I had assumed that this film would merely rehashed the formula that has been worked so well in the first film. Put the titular character, give him a worthy opponent, and let the comedy rolls. Boy I’m glad that I was wrong.
As a sequel, this film goes a bit more ambitious, introducing more of the kingdom where these animals lived and talked, and a new opponent that goes so very well with the story’s framework. Po, now a Dragon Warrior, still somehow “leads” the Furious Five. An unfortunate events that led to the death of famous warrior put them directly opposite an evil peacock, Lord Shen that of course, has planned to forcibly rule the entire China (when they didn’t anyway?). However, turns out that Lord Shen is not what appears to be as he was somehow (not too complicated) connected to Po.
What’s there not to like about Panda? They’re cuddly, with thick furs that begged to be petted, and bright, excited eyes to match its joyful and liveliness. Even though the Panda on this film goes a bit stereotyped (and glorified by any reasonably successful manga) by being clumsy, not-too-bright, but really really passionate about Kung Fu, it is rather impossible to not liked him. And it is essential that the audience liked the Panda in order to thoroughly enjoyed this film. In fact, much, even maybe all, the excitements from this film came from the Panda that I found myself a bit slipping when the focus wasn’t on him. Fortunately, these moments aren’t that often. There’s however, some interesting moments that might lead to “Panda 3.” And if the casts were to return, I don’t see why not.
I have mentioned elsewhere that Jack Black was at his best when he did not had a lead role. Well, here’s an exception. As long as he doesn’t have to be physically on screen, he would be just fine for him to had a lead role. It is hard to not recognize Jack Black in Po’s voice but it fits his character so well that it even takes a shape of its own and in turns made Po, his own. It’s awesome work. Although, let’s not belittle his co-stars. I mean, I’ve got a shiver down my spine whenever Tigress talked and I know it was Angelina Jolie’s alluring voice as hers would probably among the very few actress out there that has this effect on males. The only voice I was surprised to learn was Lord Shen’s which was voiced by Gary Oldman. But all in all, if Pixar goes (mostly) the road of the unknowns when casting their animated movie’s voices, Dreamworks went to a more safe route by casting familiar names to fill the voices. But credit is due when the credit is due. They did it so well.
Short words, “Kung Fu Panda 2” is a worthy sequel. Coming with new story that spans its story’s framework left from the first film, rather than rehashing the old formula. It was a fun family film but also with a bit of thought to be enjoyed by the older audiences. Overall, even if I find that the first film is slightly more fun (because it’s an origin story and all), this year round, Dreamworks might have a better chance to dethrone Pixar. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen “Cars 2”).
P.S. Theme of the film: Parents.