I did enjoy the first Kung Fu Panda movie but that wasn’t why I went to see the sequel today. I went to see KFP2 because a) I’d had an unusually bad day at work and laughter was required b) I knew laughter would be provided because Jack Black and fat pandas were involved, c) 3D never looks so good as it does in animations and d) I like pandas. I was right. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, despite whatever hurdles the local Odeon threw in my path to obstruct my journey to fulfilment and enlightenment.
The story is remarkably simple. Po (Jack Black) and his five amazing friends (there are more friends than there are legs between them) set out to save Kung Fu from the machinations of the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). Along the way, Po learns through a mix of insight and acupuncture that a goose with a flair for noodles is not his real father and that he was instead abandoned in a basket of radishes. As an example of the torment that racks Po throughout this film, we see one dream in which one radish in particular exhibits more King Fu skills than Po could ever muster. In spite of this inner turmoil, Po and his friends must do battle against Shen and his nasty wolves who will destroy Kung Fu through gunpowder.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a big step up from its predecessor. We now know Po and we like him. His girth has not diminished and yet his heart is even bigger. His determination to learn Inner Peace – and it doesn’t come naturally to him – is partly a result of his new knowledge of the fate that befell his parents. His goose dad gives us an image of the adorable fat baby Po while the tigress (Angelina Jolie) just hints at a hero who may have a little piece of her heart. In other words we have a tale that mixes action with raw emotion and I’m not afraid to admit that on a couple of occasions I had something stuck in my eye.
Some scenes stand out and chief among them is the dragon creature, carried by Po and his friends, into the mouth of which each enemy falls only to be expelled at the tailend. Po’s efforts to remain in disguise are both ludicrous and laudable. But what makes this film stand out is the added poignancy of the inner growth of the panda.
The film itself is produced beautifully. State of the art 3D animation is mixed with 2D imagery or even puppetry, as dark shadows direct us down the path that Po has followed until this point.
The 3D was very good. The film didn’t descend into darkness and blurs, it stayed light and vibrant throughout and I would argue that this is one film that you wouldn’t regret seeing in 3D. And did I say how funny it was?