May 29, 2011 -- I was pleasantly surprised that this sequel turned out to be a good film, as opposed to most sequels, and there have been tons of them this year. This is as good as the first film. Well, the artwork isn't quite as impressive, but the story is strong and compelling. A sloppy story is what kills a lot of sequels (as is the case with the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie). This one not only has a compelling story, but it has quite a bit of emotional power.
In this episode (and it looks like there will be more) our favorite Kung Fu Panda, Po, has fulfilled his destiny to become the leader of the Furious Five, battling threats to the valley. When he sees a strange symbol on some wolf invaders, however, he has a flashback to his childhood, dim memories of his real mother and father that trouble him. He needs to find out the truth about his parents and how he came to be adopted before he can achieve inner peace and reach his full potential.
Flashbacks to his childhood and doubts about his parents cloud Po's mind to the point where he becomes ineffective as a fighter and leader of the Furious Five. Worse yet, a particular symbol causes flashbacks at inopportune moments, causing Po to become dazed and distracted, even in the middle of battle. This becomes such a liability, Po is finally abandoned by his fellow fighters, but Po soldiers on alone. He finally realizes he must confront the kingdom's biggest enemy, Lord Shen, an evil peacock emperor. Lord Shen uses the firepower of large cannons to overthrow the established government. Po discovers that he must confront Lord Shen directly to find out the truth about his childhood and what happened to his parents.
The main story is compelling, a tale about Po's journey of self discovery and his efforts to make peace with himself, but there is also plenty of humor which plays nicely off the strong characters, including several characters from the first film and some new ones, like Lord Shen. There is also a secondary theme about the power of new technology which causes martial arts experts to doubt themselves. As is common these days there are some famous voice talents on display in this film, including Jack Black (who provides the voice for Po), Dustin Hoffman (who does the voice for Shifu), Angelina Jolie (who does the voice for Tigress), Jackie Chan (who does the voice for Monkey) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who does the voice for master Crock). This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.