Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

Each week it seems that more and more films are either sequels or remakes. This trend is not new, and quite honestly makes a ton of sense.  A film does well, so it only makes sense to cash in with another chapter in a tale, or to take a film that younger audiences may not have seen, add fresh faces and modernize the setting.  I really don't like remakes, but I get why they are made.  I don't mind sequels, in fact the only time I don't particularly like them are when the original ended in perfect manner.  The film for this review is Jack Black's Kung Fu Panda 2, starring Jack Black, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Gary Oldman as Lord Shen.

KFP2 picks up where the animated original left off.  Po, the panda and Dragon Warrior, joins his friends the furious five for another adventure.  The antagonist here is a peacock named Lord Shen, who is seeking revenge, but a revenge steeped in an approval seeking manner, an approval he did not get years before, when he was outcast and exiled.

Po is still the bungling, lovable, larger than life, ever hungry panda bear he was in the first film.  At times he is confused, even dumbfounded.  This film is really about Po's search for identity.  It also has messages to send regarding family, friendship and the balancing of your inner being.

The idea that the extraordinary can be found within all of us is apparent from start to finish, just as it was in the original.  This notion is a good message to send to children, as well as for adults.  Some people find their greatness early, some have to experience pain and suffering to find theirs, while others will wait many many years before they find theirs.

Another positive message displayed here is that just because someone may appear cold emotionally, doesn't mean that there isn't a warm heart within them.

In the first film the furious five were pretty efficiently displayed as business all the time.  In this version the Po effect can be clearly seen as it relates to the five.  They are seen much more loose and open to experiencing the fun things in life.  This is portrayed wonderfully in an early scene, where Po is stuffing rolls into his mouth and the five can be seen laughing and cheering him on as he continuously stuffs more and more rolls in his mouth.  

The idea of friendship is seen all throughout the film, but a good example is a scene where genuine concern for Po's well-being is shown by Tigress as she forbids him from joining in the upcoming attack on Lord Chen.

The idea of family is integral to the storyline.  Therefore, that's all I will say about this theme.  Just be aware it's there, and as you watch the film see how the story uses this notion to expand the plot and storyline.

Inner peace, as Master Chifu calls it, is the sense that through balancing out your being, understanding yourself, through reflection, and gaining focus in the most cluttered environments, will unlock the greatness inside of you.  

While there is some animated violence in this film, I wouldn't say there's enough to send out warning flags to parents.  In my opinion this film is suitable for all ages.  It's another of the animated features that, for a while now, adults will also enjoy greatly.

Personally this film stands up well as it's own film.  However, I don't think it comes close to what the first film accomplished. So, go see this film over the long weekend.  Take your kids.  You'll all enjoy it, but don't  expect it to be as good as the original.  

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