May 29, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
With a story that’s a step down from the original, Kung Fu Panda 2 doesn’t come close to breaking grown-up hearts Pixar-style, but what it lacks in plot it more than makes up for in gorgeous animation. Not only do the action sequences and fight choreography rival those seen in Sucker Punch (review here), but Kung Fu Panda 2’s pristine incorporation of 3D takes maximal advantage of the trendy medium that results in a dazzling display that even includes a couple of Captain EO moments. People with 3D set up at home will definitely want to add Kung Fu Panda 2 to their short list of showcase show-off features.
The crowded star-studded cast’s voice acting is again stellar, but many of the supporting roles returning from the first movie, especially and regrettably Dustin Hoffman’s, have been trimmed down considerably. Similarly, new additional characters voiced by Danny McBride, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert, and even Jean-Claude Van Damme, suffer the same fate of sparse screen time. Fortunately, there’s plenty of Gary Oldman, who has played some of the most memorable cinematic villains and aids in creating another one here by lending his voice to Po’s new feathered foe.
Panda’s biggest enemy this time around though is its own inclination to please younger audiences. Yes, I know it’s a family film, but the original never got too cutesy for its own good, and too many of the sequel’s jokes will only get the kids to laugh while the adults may be wishing they were watching The Hangover: Part II (review here) this weekend instead.
Nevertheless, Kung Fu Panda 2 soars over Rio and Gnomeo & Juliet, both of which were just average 3D family flicks, and as a DreamWorks Animation sequel is somewhere between Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Shrek 2. With Cars 2 just down the road and not looking so hot, Kung Fu Panda 2 might’ve been able to steal a clean and clear win for best animated film this year if not for Rango (review here). Kung Fu Panda 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars or B+ or Great.