6/14/11

KUNG FU PANDA 2 - REVIEW


There was something pretty irresistible about the first Kung Fu Panda film. Seemingly a dull, same-old same-old kiddie animation, it was actually genuinely engaging, very appealing visually and quite clever in its admittedly familiar approach to storytelling. Its take on Kung Fu movie cliches wasn't exactly new but the film still felt fresh regardless and, more importantly, was a lot of fun.

A sequel was therefore inevitable and for this one we have pretty much more of the same but obviously with bigger stakes and more action scenes...and a third dimension. So how does it fare?

Strangely not quite as well.

Not that Kung Fu Panda 2 is poor in any way but somehow a lot is lost in this one's bigger scale. The heart of the story, Po's relationship with his dad and his search for his origins, is still very effective but the loud, in-your-face action sequences downplay a story which, in itself, was solid and powerful enough without being peppered with whizz-bang nonsense.

This is the main complaint really. Also, Jack Black's familiar loveable-idiot act is slowly wearing thinner and thinner and one feels that the character should really grow-up a little bit and become somewhat wiser making for a genuine hero one could really get behind. With the whole of China possibly being at stake this time, it's just a tad irritating that our Kung Fu panda still can't even stand up facing the right way when fighting!

But ok, he does learn a lesson by the end and at least appears to have grown up a tad. Hopefully by Kung Fu Panda 3 we'll finally get a somewhat more mature panda! A panda with peripheral vision...

One perplexing thing which even astouned me in the first film is the franchise's waste of voice talents on near-mute characters. I mean, you have Jackie Chan in a Kung Fu film, are you seriously gonna give him ONE line? He's Jackie Chan! The likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, David Cross, Seth Rogen and Lucy Liu also feel like a complete waste. Literally anyone could have played these parts, let alone such big names. New recruit Gary Oldman does a great job with a new terrific villain though and manages to create a genuinely entertaining, creepy threat for the Furious Five.

Overall, yes Kung Fu Panda 2 is still a decent enough film, it has heart, action, great visuals but if you're expecting as much charm as the original you might find that a lot of the time the film is just waving its keys in front of your face to give you the illusion of a third dimension, a third dimension the film really did not need.

Cute but not so cuddly.

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