No thank you to “Kung Fu Panda 2”
Skadoosh! The Kung Fu panda returns in 3D for a less-than-satisfying sequel set to release on May 26.
Po, voiced by Jack Black, is an overweight panda who is living the dream as the legendary Dragon Warrior and must work with his fellow kung-fu masters, the Furious Five (voiced by Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, David Cross and Jackie Chan), to defeat yet another villain, who has developed a weapon that could destroy Kung Fu forever.
Rather than just throwing a new villain into the mix, the writers attempt to make the sequel fresh and interesting by exploring Po’s past to learn more about his real family and obtain “inner peace.” However, the result is a corny, sappy script that feels contrived. One of the funniest jokes from the first film is that nobody addresses that Po’s father is a goose. It was not necessary to create another movie to explore this in depth and by doing so, it ruins the whole joke.
Another problem with the character development is that Po’s new confidence almost comes across as arrogant. He spends the entire first movie training to become the Dragon Warrior, while also befriending the Furious Five: Tigress, Mantis, Viper, Crane and Monkey. The first movie ends with him defeating Tai Lung, but he is still not at the same level as the Furious Five, so it is unbelievable that he would lead the group in battle during the second movie and order everyone around.
Despite the all-star casting, the writers fail to use the actors to their full potential and Black’s natural humor cannot overcome the juvenile and trite jokes. While the jokes may be enough to make the children in the audience laugh, they just aren’t enough for the older viewers.
One actor who stands above the rest is Gary Oldman, who voices the evil Lord Shen. It seems questionable at the beginning of the movie whether or not a peacock was the proper choice for a villain, but Oldman does justice to his role and proves that even the most passive animal can be frightening.
Unlike the previous film, “Kung Fu Panda 2” is shot in 3D, which allows the viewers to become even more immersed in the kung-fu experience through detailed attack sequences. A unique aspect of the movie was that various film techniques used were reminiscent of ancient Chinese art. Since the film was set in China, the varying styles combined with 3D successfully transport the audience to that time period and setting.
So, while “Kung Fu Panda 2” is full of clichéd jokes and an unsatisfying plot, the gorgeous graphics and talented cast provide the audience with cheap thrills that cannot surpass that of the previous film.