Historically, summer has long been the season when film critics moan and groan and gnash their teeth and talk about how there are too many movie sequels and too few original ideas. I'll be honest, though: I think Kung Fu Panda was made for sequels, and I'm quite happy to have the gang back for a second big-screen adventure—even if it is a little light on new ideas.
Because really, so what? The appeal of this movie—and, by the way things are headed, this franchise—has never had much to do with its Idea; unlike, say, Wall*E or even Up, Kung Fu Panda is not high-concept filmmaking. These are movies about animals that do kung fu. They are, essentially, Saturday morning cartoons rendered for the big screen (and, in the second installment, in 3-D). The 2008 original was an appealing blend of goofy comedy, martial arts scenes that mixed Jackie Chan-styled cartoonishness with Charlie Chaplin-esque slapstick, and well-intentioned messages about being yourself and standing up for what's right. It did all these things well, and the sequel is just as good; I'm perfectly content to see all this done for a second time, in a different setting and with a tweaked plot.
The first film never dug any deeper than its Saturday morning cartoon goofiness and expertly-choreographed action sequences, and the sequel doesn't either—and that's a good thing. Frankly, the first chapter really only gave us one interesting character—Po, the title character, voiced by Jack Black. The members of the Furious Five, though well-designed and voiced by some big-name actors, really never got a chance to do much, or to develop into anything beyond cardboard cutouts.
If anything, they are used even less here. There are some vaguely emotional ...1
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Kung Fu Panda 2
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