Review: Kung Fu Panda 2
Having finally tired of shaking their Shreky bank to see if there were any more coins tucked away in there, the fortunes of DreamWorks are now placed squarely on the Panda's back.
As a result Kung Fu Panda 2 is a sequel made with skill and caution, another beautifully crafted serving of everything you liked before. It retains everything that was in the first: the mix of send up humour and genre reverence; intricate, skilful action scenes and beautiful animation.
The 3D is actually quite good here, being consistently noticeable and frequently helpful.
They even repeat the conceit of a self fulfilling prophecy. What it doesn't have, probably inevitably, is such a strong story. The first delivered its predictable straightforward story – the no-hoper panda Po (Black) who came to fulfil his destiny and became the Dragon Warrior – with an unexpected force. If the first was a fable, the second is more an entertainment, a series of big action sequences.
Now established as the Dragon Warrior there is little room for Po's character to develop, other than a search for his real family. Mostly the film is concerned with his attempts to defeat evil peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). The film becomes a succession of showdowns which would become wearying if they weren't delivered with unflagging invention and wit.
There's also an awkward tension caused by the story being fundamentally too adult for a children's film. Often it has to tippy toe around events, offering only suggestion and implication, because to spell it out would lose them the children in the audience.
Overall, though, it is every bit as enjoyable as the first. The difference between the two is the difference between the simple perfection of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the gaudy frenzied fun of Temple of Doom – if Temple of Doom
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had been a lot better.
Anyway, the Panda is still great fun – he even gives 'awesomeness' a good name.
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (PG)
Director: Jennifer Yuh
With: Jack Black, Angelina
Jolie, Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh,
Seth Rogan and Dustin Hoffman.
Length: 90 mins