Po (Jack Black) and pals venture to China to battle a new villain, voiced by Gary Oldman, in this all-star sequel to DreamWorks Animation's 2008 original. Opens on July 7, click here for movie times and trailer.
There are several moments during Kung Fu Panda 2 that might force you to take a breather, remove those 3D glasses and rub your eyes in awe: is this how good it’s got? Indeed, this swiftly paced sequel to one of Dreamworks’ better CG-animated efforts overwhelms our senses with one stunning, phenomenal set-piece after another: there are crashing pagodas, hurtling cannonballs, wild chases, and of course, a lot of whiplash-inducing kung fu, effortlessly balancing elegance, ferocity, variety and comic timing like the genre’s pros. And yes, it’s all ridiculously beautiful look at, even when there’s nothing happening on-screen (which doesn’t happen very often).
However, the film could’ve definitely done with a wittier script. There’s a bit of slapstick to appease the kids, but where the action soars, the humour comes up short. Likewise, the central drama isn’t as emotionally engaging, even though the story does give our cuddly, overweight hero Po (Jack Black) a valid reason for returning: an existential journey to recall the fate of his biological parents and fulfil a prophecy to stop a power-mad peacock named Shen (Gary Oldman) from conquering China. So while this is often an altogether darker Panda than its predecessor – look no further than the fiery infernal lair of Shen as a point of tonal difference – and its appropriation of the martial arts genre scales some dizzying heights, the plot itself doesn’t always inspire the same kind of giddiness.