Let me start off by saying that 3D charges are crap. While understanding that extra $2.50-$3.50 pulls in a heck of a lot more money than the standard features, give me a break. When the majority of the film appears not to have a true reason for being in 3D then the film should not be in 3D. There is no need for me to be paying that extra amount on four tickets that are already over $7.00. See the 2D version of Kung Fu Panda 2 if at all possible, your wallet will thank me later. With that being said Lefont Theaters in Sandy Springs does have a cheaper sub-charge of $2.50 compared to the generated price of $3.50 for 3D versions in most other theaters. All the kids bought into the 3D or what little was there would be the only positive thing I have to say about the film being in 3D.
Secondly, regardless of a film being animation or live action, a good film has a beginning, middle, end, and a good plot to carry said film throughout its duration. This is one of those films that happened to have all those elements, much like the first feature length animated film. Part of what makes this a successful sequel is the fact that writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger were brought back to pen the screenplay. This plays a big success in the value of characters more so than people give such a factor credit for sadly. This can also be said about getting the repeat characters to continue having the same voice actors. Remember The Return of Jafar (1994)? Robin Williams is and always will be the only Genie and this obviously taught animators that lesson the hard way. The only flaw I found is the lack of back-story we have received with the various members of the Furious Five. Everyone else gets a long drawn out back-story and the members we have seen in two films received nothing more than a nod in the original that they have practically been training their entire lives. The only deeper back-story that is hinted at is that of Tigress and by paying attention one can guess it has something greatly to go along the lings of what occurred to Po.
With that being said, the main storyline is well written and portrayed throughout the entire film. Viewers are introduced to a new villain, a much bigger “baddie” than Tai Lung ever thought about being in Shen (Gary Oldman). Shifu is of course back to teaching a new lesson to Po. Inner peace. He of course manages again to master his lesson within one feature length film, much to the surprise of everyone. Audiences learn that Shen has come back to seek his revenge on being banned from his parent’s kingdom earlier, due to various heinous actions. More heinous actions continue upon Shen arriving back home in order to take over his home once more. Thus the Furious Five and Dragon Warrior are called in to restore order to China in order to save all the villagers as well as the legend that is kung fu! Lofty goals, but attainable in a children’s film nonetheless.
By including this storyline, audiences are also introduced to Wolf Boss (Danny McBride), Master Ox (Dennis Haybert), Master Croc (Jean-Claude Van Damme), and Master Rhino (Victor Garber), and Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh). All of these characters, in some way, drive the plot of the film further along. Slowly, but surely we begin to piece together what might have happened to Po’s family. While I hope I’m not spoiling it for anyone, adoption does come up in the sequel. I’m hoping those of you reading this did not think a Goose could produce a baby panda somehow, but if so you can just be mad at me.
If one takes the 3D factor out of this animated feature, the graphics actually got better. Obviously technology progresses and techniques get better, but being a fan of older animation techniques, this writer is always amazed at just what digital animation can produce when done right. There is both a beauty and of course menacing animation in that of Shen, which in any medium would be hard to pull off. All of the other characters animations are stepped up as well and the animation teams should truly pat themselves on the back for that one. Gary Oldman is also outstanding, as he is in most everything he does, by voicing Shen. While viewing the film the whole time, my mind kept wondering who was voicing this evil peacock before me. He truly steals the show alongside Mr. Ping. Though he is a minuet character my love for him grew by leaps and bounds with his limited amount of screen time. This goes for all of the Furious Five as well. Viper was a bit likeable in the first film out of all of them, but the rest develop to at least all be truly likeable and provide some comedic relief when needed the most in the film, especially the quips of Mantis.
As a result, Dreamworks provides us all with an action packed film that will again excite audiences of all ages. This is not one of those animated films where we wish were doing something else. While a lot of people might consider these films to be a bit predictable and message filled, the messages are aimed to the youth and are great messages to take away. Unlike the original review of the first film, the second message will not be revealed for those who plan on taking their tikes to the theater still. This is a great way to keep the kids distracted for a little while and a film adults will be able to enjoy and talk about with their children as well. When parents can open up any line of communication with children these days that is always a good thing. The best part? Parents have an enjoyable way of doing so for themselves too.
For theaters near you check out this extensive link to various theaters around Atlanta. For locations near and in Austell the safe bets are always Movies 278 and Regal Stadium 22 in Austell. Hope you have a great weekend along with your children should you go to the movies! I promise you won’t be disappointed.