Everybody’s kung fu fighting again as Po and the furriest Furious Five take on a weapon that threatens to best their martial arts skills. Jack Black and the cast return for a high-kicking time that provides some family fu time.
Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) is in line to rule Gongmen City. His family has brought happiness to the world because they invented fireworks; however, he sees a more diabolical use for the colorful explosives.
When the family soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) declares that only a warrior of black and white will defeat him, he slaughters the panda population. His parents are horrified at his actions and banish him from the city and his inheritance. He swears that he will return and avenge himself. Many years pass and Po (Jack Black) is the Dragon Warrior and fights crime alongside the Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross).
Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is trying to teach Po about inner peace when the call comes out that wolves are attacking a village so Po and the Five spring into action. The wolves’ leader (Danny McBride) has a symbol on his armor that cause Po distraction and to flash back on his past.
After the battle, he asks his father Mr. Ping (James Hong) about his origins but Ping can only say he was a foundling and he raised him as his son. Gongmen City is in danger from Shen and the group is called to protect it and along the way Po will discover his past and his connection with Shen.
Jack Black brings his black and white bumbling Kung Fu panda back to the big screen and the results are just as charming as the first time around. The vocal cast of the first film also makes welcome returns and brings the same amusement to their respective characters, well maybe not Jolie who brings a steely ferociousness to Tigress.
It’s a top rate cast and they gather around the goofy Black. Now we add into the mix the maniacal Oldman and it’s quite the fireworks baked soufflé. The fine vocal work is only augmented by the fantastic animation and delightful Asian backdrop.
The sequel also goes into Po’s background and handily sets up a further adventure. It’s still very heartwarming with Po finding out more about his background but still gravitating back to his adoptive father. It’s not simply a rehash of the first film but actually moves things along nicely. It’s all good family fun that adds a kung fu kick.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.35:1).
Special features, all in high definition, include a picture-in-picture Animator’s Corner commentary that has interviews and other goodies, a filmmaker’s commentary with director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, producer Melissa Cobb, production designer Raymond Zibach, and animator Rodolphe Guenoden, an Animation Inspiration interactive map, a trivia track, the 12 minute “Kickin’ it with the Cast” does just that, the 8 minute “Panda Stories” is about the real bears, the 23 minute “Secrets of the Masters” short film, the 24 minute “Legends of Awesomeness” Nickelodeon episode, 5 minutes of deleted scenes, games, a bit that teaches you some Mandarin, and previews for other Dreamworks products. Disc two is a DVD/digital copy. Plus you can get membership to Kung Fu Panda World online.
Kung Fu Panda 2 doesn’t fall into a repetitive sequel rut but adds in some grand animation and keeps the seasoned, fun voice cast. As well as adding in some new voices and situations that trend towards a more fulfilling story. It’s also hilarious.
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