Kung Fu Panda 2 Movie Review
Review by Nathan Samdahl (B)
It took me a long time to finally come around to seeing the first Kung Fu Panda. Not sure what my hesitation was, but when I finally saw the film I was pleasantly surprised. The first film sported beautiful animation, great voice performances and an animated script that actually made me laugh.
So with my expectations thoroughly raised going into Kung Fu Panda 2, I can thankfully say I was not disappointed.
Jack Black delivers another rousing panda performance, proving again that audiences may prefer to see him in this form more than his live-action one (sorry Year One).
Surrounding Black is an amazing supporting cast including returning favorites Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Lucy Liu, and new faces...or voices, such as Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Dennis Haysbert (24), Jean-Claude Van Damme and one of my personal favorites, Gary Oldman, as the villain Lord Shen. Can't really beat that group.
The filmmakers, this time led by Jennifer Yuh (who was a story artist on the first film), managed to craft another engaging story. I was worried that Po's arc would be limited since his transformation into the panda warrior was fairly complete after round 1, but his quest here for inner peace and to learn the truth about his real parents drew me in.
I admittedly have not seen all of the Dreamworks Animation films, but of the ones I've seen (including Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, etc.), both Kung Fu Panda movies take the prize for best animation. The shots are all intricate yet crisp and the Asian influence gives the visuals a layered and textured look that tops the studio's past work. The creative team takes the audience on a fun ride throughout and one that kids will love and parents will enjoy as well.
The 3D, of course, doesn't add much, though it was fairly seamless as compared to some other recent attempts (I would like my money back for Green Hornet, please). Kung Fu Panda 2 is definitely one of the better all-around films this year and a good [late] kickoff to what should be an exciting summer season.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.