Kung Fu Panda 2 is the latest Dreamworks Animation film, starring Jack Black as Jack Black being a Kung Fu Panda and people from Angelina Jolie to Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme as a whole host of other Kung Fu animals. To be frank I wasn’t a fan of the first and only saw this as it was the only thing showing that I hadn’t already seen. And given the fact I’m a 28 year old, single man with no kids I’m certainly not it’s main target audience. So my view may not be the best one on this film.
The story begins with a little 2D animation about a kingdom in China ruled over by the Peacocks, while everyone celebrates and enjoys the fireworks the prince of the kingdom, Shen, sees something different in the fireworks, a darker purpose for them and after a prophecy that he will be defeated by a warrior of black and white he sends out an army to kill the pandas. When he returns his parents banish him from the kingdom for his actions. Then we change to the 3D animation and the action begins. Po and the 5 warriors of the first film are training when he is summoned to Master Shifu to learn of his next level of training. He must reach inner peace, displayed when Shifu meditates and then taking his Kung Fu stance manages to catch a drop of water and let it flow around his body and guide it gently in to a flower without disturbing the drop at all. Po promises to practice but is called off to the nearby village when they’re attacked by wolves, stealing all the metal they can get the hands on.
During the fire Po sees an emblem on one of the wolves which brings a sudden vision to him, a vision of a female panda putting him in a box as a child and leaving him. This leads to him discovering he was adopted by his father, the goose.
These wolves are stealing for Shen, he’s creating a weapon to rid the world of Kung Fu and take control of China for himself. He takes this weapon to his old home, it’s now the palace of the Kung Fu Masters. He attacks the masters and when they easily beat him back telling him he’s no match for their Kung Fu, he says no, but their Kung Fu is no match for his Cannon and fires, killing one of the masters and taking control of the city. Upon hearing of this Master Shifu sends Po and the warriors off to take back the city and destroy the weapon. And so the adventure begins.
Now I don’t really know what to say about this film. I mean I wasn’t underwhelmed by it because I went in with very low expectations. It’s not a bad film, I just found it boring. A couple of chuckles here and there, but mostly I was sat there thinking “That bit of 3D’s distracting” “Ooh, look at that water, it looks pretty real” “wow I can see individual hairs in the fur of these animal” and I doubt very much that’s the intent of a film maker. When you’re watching a film you’re supposed to get caught up in the action, the story, the characters. I didn’t really care, and I found the last scene in the film to be rather annoying. It was just there to set up a third film with an emotional conflict that was seemingly resolved in this film.
The 3D was the best I’ve seen in a while, but being a CGI animation it should lend itself well to 3D. The voice acting is competent to good, and the action scenes are directed well, you never really lose focus on what’s going on. The interesting bits though, for me, were when it switched to a pseudo hand drawn 2/3D style at various points of the film. Though basically this film is just more of the same, so if you enjoyed the first I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy the second, while if you didn’t like the first I’d see no reason for you to even bother with it.