Thursday, May 26, 2011

Big visuals, big adventure put kick in 'Kung Fu Panda 2'

When you're the take on son of a noodle-making goose, you've got to wonder where you come from. That question takes DreamWorks' kung fu-loving panda, Po, on a new escapade in "Kung Fu Panda 2." It's the starting point for a slick 3D sequel packed with dramatic visuals, great slapstick humor and the return of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie.

Po's quest for individuality and his mission to destroy Lord Shen, a megalomaniac peacock out to rule China work jointly well and propel this tale along at a pleasant clip. The film's dramatic opening, which includes cut-out shadow puppet and 2D flashbacks to Po's childhood, sets the stage for many arresting visuals to come in this animated treat.
From fog-laced trees rank in secluded glens to the individual hairs in Po's fur, "Kung Fu Panda 2" comes alive with hard to consider realism thanks to its vibrant use of CGI colour and 3D technology. The movie's chases and martial arts showdowns are also a hoot.

One of the film's funniest scenes comes when Po and his warrior buddies disguise themselves in a dragon puppet to bypass Lord Shen's soldiers. One by one the racing puppet ingests the guards and poops them out the back end. Here and somewhere else, Po's klutzy, likeable personality shines through thanks to Black's playful voice work.

Yet Gary Oldman comes close to theft Black's thunder. As the voice of Lord Shen, Oldman's villain is so scrumptiously insane and vain that it rates right up there with Hollywood's all-time best bad guys. This sequel's only flaw is that it gives very few lines to its heavyweight costars like Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen and others.

Frankly, moviegoers will hardly even notice they're there. Audiences, however, will likely forgive DreamWorks this one mistake.

In "Kung Fu Panda 2" these animation maestros have created a warm, funny, action-packed crowd-pleaser that's no matter which but an assembly line franchise entry. Cute, cuddly Po doesn't merely save the day here. He finds out who is really is. That's always a victory.

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