Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

I went to go see the second installment of this Jack Black epic last night. Long story short, it did not disappoint. The story was original and fresh, but tied nicely to the first movie and stayed true to the characters. It didn't feel like it had been thrown together in a basement overnight as a way to continue to make money off the first movie. You know what I'm talking about--those movies like Shrek 25, or whatever number they're on now.

The plot is also thankfully not a tired repeat of the plot of the first movie. Now, they bear similarities, of course, but you don't have much of a story without a bad guy, character growth, and other various staples. While the first movie covers Po's journey from out-of-place noodle chef to legendary Dragon Warrior and learning that he had it in him the entire time, the second movie is more of a personal journey that comes from having everything he ever dreamed of but realizing he doesn't know who he is. It dives deeper, and with the key characters already sufficiently developed in the first movie, audiences are able to connect emotionally with Po without having to try to keep up with the other characters. And there are some pretty hardcore action scenes, too.

Here's where my critique comes, though. I'm a firm believer in the suspension of disbelief--it's a powerful thing, and movies would be majorly boring without it. But I also believe that you have to establish a set of rules and more or less abide by them throughout the story. So it was a little difficult to believe that a good punch was enough to knock someone out cold, while a cannon blast will only leave you with sooty fur and a headache. That's not a very fearsome weapon. I get that it's a kids' movie, so they don't show you blood, guts, death, or any of that nasty stuff, but it's still easy enough to imply when a character has met his end.

The flick draws its share of giggles, and I appreciated that the writers didn't feel the need to constantly remind the audience of how funny Po is. We got a good sense of that from the first movie, and in this one, his jokes are comfortable and well-suited to the situations, not forced, which allows him to take a somber journey into his past. In fact, the scene in which this really happens is composed extremely well, making effective use of the elegant juxtaposition of the two different animation styles, something we didn't get to see so much of in the first movie.

I'll try not to give away too much, because you should really go see this one, but I will applaud the number of questions that get answered in the film. In the first movie, Po got exposure; in this one, he finds closure. The end promises a third, and I am genuinely interested to see where Po, Shifu, and the "Furious Five" will be taken in the next installment.


  1. I just recently saw that movie and I found it good too. There's lots of chuckles, and there's lots of action! How cool was that seeing the peacock do some kung fu with his huge tail, and throwing daggers out from his feathers? The ending was great, too, and kinda touching. =]

  2. Would you say it was better or worse than the first?

  3. @ Oliver - Totally. Loved the tail in the fight scenes. Excellent use of that character. And yes, the ending was wonderful :)

    @ Spencer - I don't know; I usually never like sequels as much as the original, and as great as this was, it doesn't take any of the merit from the first one. So I think it's equally as good as the first.

  4. Nice to know you were workin hard on your "history homework" while squirreled away in your room on Sat.