So, here goes: my first film review. I appreciate it’s not a new film, but sometimes old films need reviews more than new films, right? Please share your views below and give criticism where needed!
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu
Runtime: 90 minutes
Age Certificate: PG
Release: May 2011
Rating: 3.5 / 5
In the Valley of Peace, Po Ping is revelling in his fulfilled dreams as he serves as the fabled Dragon Warrior protecting his home with his heroes now his closest friends. However, Po and company learn that the murderous Lord Shen of Gongman City is threatening the land with a fearsome new weapon that could mean the end of kung fu. They attempt to stop him, but the panda is burdened with crippling memory flashbacks linked to this villain. Now with China in the balance, Po must learn about his past and find true inner peace against all opposition.
Since the release of the original film, Kung Fu Panda, in 2008, this franchise has become somewhat of a hit and has found its way onto childrens’ lunchboxes all around the world. It’s been given it’s own TV series on Nickelodeon and, in 2011, a second film aptly named Kung Fu Panda 2.
As sequels go, this is a great film. The plot is completely separate from the first film, with a new and spectacularly devious villain (Lord Shen, voiced brilliantly by Gary Oldman), and a new storyline. This plot touches back to the first film as it answers a question that was never resolved initially: where did Po come from, why is his “Dad” a goose and, perhaps most importantly, where are all the pandas? I thought this was great as the combination of a great plot and a personal motive for the hero always makes for a great film.
There are a few new characters introduced, including the new villain Lord Shen, the mysterious Soothsayer and Po’s reluctant new allies, Master Ox and Master Croc. New characters plus a new location (Shen’s stronghold city, Gongmen) is always great in a second film (especially a kid’s film), although the sheer volume of characters that tag along behind Po can sometimes be a bit chaotic and gives some of them not a lot to do.
The backdrop of Ancient China is unique among Dreamworks animation films and is a nicely refreshing location, making every shot look like an oil painting. This is backed up by some great sweeping olde-timey-Chinese music!
The animations as always are brilliantly colourful, meaning there’s never a dull moment on the screen (there’s so much going on in the fight scenes- it’s really a tribute to the best of animation!)
Overall, this is a great film to watch as a family. It’s action-packed, fast-moving and genuinely funny. We’re plunged straight into a nice plot which has a proverb-like Dreamworks moral hidden beneath it of finding “inner peace” by connecting with nature. And there’s the small matter of a big revelation in the very closing seconds of the film (no spoilers here)! I think this is a great sequel that will undoubtedly carry this popular franchise forwards into a later film(s).
Kung Fu Panda 3 is scheduled to be released on December 23rd 2015, followed by a further 3 films in the franchise.