Dreamworks’s Kung Fu Panda 2 takes several million steps forward, but also a few mini steps back, as Po the panda (Jack Black) protects the whole of China and learns some life lessons along the way… Aaaw!
The animation is glorious and a vast improvement of what was pretty special the first time round. Black continues to prove that, should the world tire of his ‘I’m a hilarious hairy fish out of water’ brand of comedy,he could continue down the path of voice acting. In fact, everyone sparkles in this. From Gary Oldham to Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yes, THAT Jean-Claude Van Damme!
One of the problems is that there are so many characters in this new offering that a lot of the original protagonists take backseats to side-characters, such as Danny McBride’s Wolf Boss, who really aren’t all that funny. When four of the Furious Five have less lines than background characters, you wonder why they bothered to get the original big star cast from before. Whilst we’re on the subject, does anyone else find it really odd that David Cross has done so many kid’s movies? I mean, seriously. It’s like Doug Stanhope appearing with The Wiggles.
My other problem is that in the original, we were left with the knowledge that Po would become a powerful kung fu master, but by the time the sequel starts, he’s still incapable of learning properly. I don’t know why this bugs me so much, but I also never quite understand why Andy still had ALL his toys by Toy Story 3.
But these are minor grumbles. The fight scenes are brilliantly done and the scenery is sumptuous. Plus, the ending clearly shows that Dreamworks thinks there is a bit more life still left in this franchise and if they keep it up to this standard, I can’t see a problem with this.
Let’s just pray we don’t end up with another Shrek series on our hands.