By: Julio De Francisco (A Toast) –
Po (voiced by Jack Black) joins forces with other martial arts experts voiced by an all-star cast (Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Jeanne-Claude Vann Damme, Danny McBride, … and so on and so forth) to find inner peace and take down Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) who is using firework technology for weapons. Could this be the end of Kung Fu?
Inner peace is a beautiful thing.
The animation and the beautiful artistic settings in Kung Fu Panda 2 are amazingly impressive. As a matter of fact, I think the film is a contender for Best Animated Film for the 2011 Oscars. I haven’t seen the first one, so I don’t know how impressive it was or if the sequel was a major improvement, but I thought the world of ancient China was brought out beautifully. I was drawn in by the settings of Gonmen City, filled with homes and towers from the Tang Dynasty era in ancient China. The colors weren’t harsh and bright like you’d expect from lower budget films like Hoodwinked.
Another aspect of the film I was impressed by was the Kung Fu and the assortment of characters that (while kind of an animated pun) worked out. You see all of the major fighting styles that you can see in The Drunken Master and other kung fu films including Tiger, Praying Mantis, Snake, Monkey, and a Crane. I thoroughly enjoyed watching each of these animated animals kicking ass while fighting Shen’s forces.
Another thing I enjoyed was the story about Po and his father and the lore about how they came to meet. Even though Po knows he’s not a goose like his father, he never once assumed he was adopted. While this made for a laugh, there’s a beautiful meaning of family bonding and love in this film that was really brought home after Po discovers how he ended up in a box of radishes outside his father’s restaurant. Even if you come from a broken home, the scene where a Chinese goose tells his adopted panda son might make you wish for a hug from anyone. But not from the man sitting alone with a bag of popcorn and a tissue. No, that’s just sad.
If you’re looking for a good family movie to go to bring the kids to, see Kung Fu Panda 2. However, if you have a child who is 5 years or younger, this movie will keep the excited for the first act, but soon they’ll drift off, worse if they’re a girl and they were hoping for rainbows and ponies. I took my niece to see this movie, and soon she was asking to go pee, and walking around the theater. If you go alone, expect kids to be running up and down the aisles. And yes, I was the Uncle who just didn’t give a shit and let them ruin your show.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time Po tries to remember his parents.
Take a drink: every time Shen flares his tail feathers
Take a drink: whenever a cannon is shot.
Take a drink: whenever a Po receives help from one of the kung-fu masters.
Spill some beer: when Rhino goes down.