Superficial Movies – Kung Fu Panda 2
Kung Fu Panda 2 is one of those movies where I want to borrow someone’s kids so I can go enjoy them legitimately instead of sneaking in at the last minute. I’m a kid at heart so I enjoy animation but the good news is that real adults that go to see Kung Fu Panda 2 aren’t going to be wishing they were anywhere else but in a theater full of little monsters. Kung Fu Panda 2 is going to be loved by the kids and it’s going to entertain you if you’re over five. Don’t let the big 2 stop you from going to see the movie either. Kung Fu Panda 2 has done the tough job of maintaining independence and creativity while retaining what made us love it in the first place.
In this summer of awful sequels Kung Fu Panda 2 stands out as film that is better than the original. The hungry kung fu bear is going to be giving Rango a run for the Best Animated Feature Ocscar. Yes it’s that good; Here we have a movie that understands it’s characters and pays attention to the story while giving us a lush and detailed animated environment that is absolutely gorgeous. The studio hired Guillermo del Toro of Pan’s Labyrinth as a visual consultant and it’s that kind of attention and care that really makes me anticipate more quality films from Dreamworks.
Po the farting panda bear became the “Dragon Warrior” in the first movie. What do you do after you become the Dragon Warrior? Go on a journey to discover inner peace and your origins while battling the evil Lord Shen (An albino peacock) who’s cannons threaten the martial arts that are the foundation of your world. Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) is taking over the world and only Po and his friends the Furious Five can stop him. This could be just another kid cartoon but Jennifer Yuh and returning screenwriters Jonathan Aible and Glenn Berger focus in on the characters and we go way beyond the quick joke of the animated babysitting movies that are so common in the hot summer months.
All the attention to visual environment makes me think that Hollywood is paying attention to the rich design elements of game design. Color in Kung Fu Panda 2 comes with a capital C, the green is Green and the orange of the forge is Orange. It’s the details that really get me wanting to watch again just to check out what’s going on in the background. Even the fight scenes match the best live action kung fu. Animated references to Samurai epics and other martial arts films crop up in every frame and the movie still maintains it’s comedic beat enough that we laugh like we’re supposed to.
It might surprise you but I’m not even going to gripe about the 3D. Usually I’m looking for a theater without this latest fad but it seems to fit animated films. Toy Story 3, Despicable Me and Kung Fu Panda 2 all have done a good job of the 3D which is more than I can say for any live action film with the exception of Avatar. I can’t complain enough about the arbitrary insertion of 3D into a film. Among the myriad failings of the latest Pirate’s of the Caribbean was an egregious use of 3D that made some scenes needlessly dark and muddy. Just how desperate are they for the extra two bucks that the theater is going to charge?
The first Kung Fu Panda was a movie the kids wanted to see over and over again. That kind of box office provides the “Incentive” that’s just like the rice bowls that provided Po with his motive for learning Kung Fu. Congratulations Dreamworks for stepping up to the bar and giving us bigger laughs, more action, genuine emotion and a great summer movie. Kung Fu Panda 2 rises out of the animation and sequel ghetto to give us a movie anyone can enjoy.