DVD REVIEW

Kung Fu Panda 2 Review [Blu-Ray]

Kung Fu Panda 2 Review [Blu-Ray]
Kung Fu Panda 2 is not better than the original. Itís also not worse. So I guess that means we win!

The Movie: star rating

When your first movie is as good as the original Kung Fu Panda, the best you can hope for in a sequel is one that doesnít make you question why you liked the original in the first place, and Kung Fu Panda 2 succeeds on that front. Itís a sweet film that goes a long way with a batch of familiar characters that youíre still going to love and care about. And while itís not as funny as the first one, the story is still there, so itís good. I even liked the villain better this time. (But how could I not? Itís voiced by Gary Oldman.)

The story this time around focuses on Panda Poís actual backstory and his quest to understand who he really is. This could have gone wrong in so many different ways, and for a small part of the film, it does, as parts of it are just plain boring. I found myself more than once looking at Facebook on my phone during some of the slower scenes. But itís a very small part of the film, and the action set-pieces more than make up for the slow parts. Where the first one would throw kung-fu your way every so often, this one gives you the whole kitchen sink. The action this time around is definitely more impressive. I donít have a 3D TV to truly enjoy it, but after seeing it in the theater, I can tell you that itís one of the few instances of truly great 3D. Donít get me wrong. This Blu-Ray still looks spectacular on my TV. But itís not the same. This film was simply made to be watched while wearing those goofy glasses.

What truly sells Kung Fu Panda 2 is the fact that we still care about Po. In many ways, after he became the Dragon Warrior, where could he really go from there? Well, back down to the bottom it seems. When the nefarious peacock, Lord Shen (Oldman), comes into town with cannons at his disposal, Po has to search within himself to find a strategy that can take him out. What he finds is his own lack of confidence and the idea that he really doesnít look anything like his goose father, Mr. Ping (played by the masterful James Hong, better known -- by the cool kids -- as Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China).

What follows is an adventure story that has more heart than the first one, but again, fewer laughs. Itís not better than the original, but because it has so much heart, itís not worse, either. Itís a fine sequel that fits and seems justified. Just donít make a third one and you should be golden. Got it, DreamWorks? Good.

The Disc: dvd

I have to give it to DreamWorks. These special features really are incredible. Itís the sheer volume thatís most impressive. ďSecrets of the MastersĒ is a full-on cartoon that tells us about the earlier kung-fu masters of Poís time. It adds depth and more relevance to this silly little world of animals that know kung-fu. ďAnimatorsí CornerĒ is a picture-in-picture discussion by the animators that runs the full course of the film. Budding artists will want to watch this. ďAnimation InspirationĒ shows shots from around Asia that inspired the movie's locations. It really is impressive and enlightening. Asia is beautiful.

ďKickiní It With the CastĒ is just like it sounds like. We get to see Jack Black and the crewís manic movements on camera. Gary Oldman is especially delightful to watch, being the gentleman that he is. Even as a peacock, he has to bring the class. The deleted scenes arenít really that impressive. They deserved to be cut. ďPanda StoriesĒ features real pandas walking around and playing. They officially win the award for cutest animals ever. ďKung Fu Shuffle GameĒ is basically a game of "follow the ball," where you have to locate Po or a rabbit as theyíre shuffled around the screen. Kids will like it. ďNi Hao -- Learn to Speak ChineseĒ features various words in Cantonese, and allows you to hear the pronunciation. Educational. Finally, thereís the filmmakersí commentary, so counting ďThe Animatorsí CornerĒ that makes two commentaries.

I told you this Blu-Ray is full to the nines. If you loved the film, youíll love these features.

Reviewed By: Rich Knight

Release Details
Length: 92 min
Rated: PG
Distributor: DreamWorks Video
Release Date:  2011-12-13
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Produced by: Melissa Cobb, Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Charlie Kaufman
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