Movie ReviewsRating: 2 of 5 yaps

Kung Fu Panda 2

I think I may have actually nodded off during “Kung Fu Panda 2.” This is surprising for two reasons — because I have never fallen asleep in a movie theater before and because it happened not during the talky scenes but in the middle of the martial-arts action.

It may amount to no more than 10 seconds I missed, but I still feel compelled to report it. I’ve sat near famous critics who snored halfway through a screening, and it troubled me when that didn’t show up in their review. It may be largely subjective, but movie criticism is still journalism, so it’s our duty to report the whole of our experience of a film.

To wit: “Panda 2″ literally put me to sleep — albeit very briefly.

I’m not an ingrained panda-hater; I very much enjoyed the first film from 2008. The mix of excellently detailed CG animation and goofy kid-friendly humor made for a jolly good time that appealed to adults as well as tykes.

But the sequel is just going through the motions. The comedy is again built around the slacker sweetness of Po, an animated version of Jack Black as a tubby panda. It worked last time around because he was a nobody poser who dreamed of fighting alongside the Ferocious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross).

But as we learned at the end of the last film, Po completed his unlikely journey to become the Dragon Warrior, the culmination of kung fu mastery. His pratfalls and clumsy antics don’t jibe now that he’s the baddest bear in the land.

Although I must say that for the beast who’s supposed to be the best of the best, both Tigress and their teacher, Shifu, still seem to have his number.

Speaking of Shifu, voiced by Dustin Hoffman, he’s kind of kicked to the curb in the sequel, showing up for a few scenes near the beginning and end. He speaks cryptically about a new threat that could “destroy kung fu,” which is like saying you’re going to destroy gardening. Even if you kill all the best gardeners, there’s still going to be plenty of people around who know a thing or two. Same with chop-socky.

The new villain is Lord Shen, a peacock who dreams of conquering all of China. He’s well on his way to doing it, too, thanks to a new invention: the cannon. (For a brief time, the movie had a subtitle, “The Kaboom of Doom,” that seems to have evaporated.)

Gary Oldman does a good job making Shen a somewhat sympathetic figure with some parental abandonment issues. He’s also a lot more menacing than you might imagine a brightly hued peacock could be — for those cascading feathers hide a small arsenal of knives.

Screenwriters/producers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who also wrote the original film, make the unwise choice of giving Po some backstory to explore. Po has a goose for a father, and one thing I liked about the first movie was that no one seemed to question this ornithological oddity.

But now Po is sent to chase after the memory of his missing parents, and it gives the sequel a downbeat vibe that sucks the life out of the lighter material.

Rookie director Jennifer Yuh’s fight scenes don’t have the crisp clarity of the last movie — the action is either flying by too fast or they dial up the slo-mo so far it’s like we’re stuck in molasses.

But mostly “Kung Fu Panda 2″ just lacks the novelty of the original, which found a sweet spot in between martial arts and goofy animated critters and milked it for every last laugh. This one feels like leftovers that have curdled.

2 Yaps


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21 Responses to “Kung Fu Panda 2”

  1. Indymom says:

    For a kids movie, this was great. My kids enjoyed it. I actually agree with the critic when he mentioned that Panda is not the great warrior but i thought this movie did a good job explaining why he became a warrior.

  2. Rob H says:

    I wanted to saw Kung Fu Panda 2 before my kids to help screen it for things that might not be appropriate for them to see. I must say I was highly disappointed in the storyline. Killing of that magnitude in a non-animated flick would earn a PG-13 rating, but I guess because it is animated it gets a PG, go figure. Death is death whether animated or not and though we all eventually have to face it we don’t have to subject our kids to excesses of it as occurs in KFP 2. As for Christopher’s review, no "movie critic" should ever fall asleep while reviewing a movie, I mean come on man, it’s your job. If were to fall asleep at my work I’d be out on my butt in no time. Take some 5-hour energy before seeing movies in the future so we get your best work!

  3. john mojzuk says:

    Well, I guess it’s kinda hard to really dislike a Panda. Could say "It’s kinda cute" just not too Kung Fu….

  4. Pat says:

    I took my grandson to see it and he loved it. It does bother me that cartoon’s are becoming to adult, I shouldt have to explain to a 4 year old why a mother leaves their child.

  5. Jaida says:

    I saw the first Kung Fu Panda and I liked it. I was different and funny. I am going to see Kung Fu Panda 2 and I hope it does not live up to this review I just read.

  6. Kyle Carothers says:

    Thanks for the word of caution, we’ll probably check it out after we watch the first movie since this one had very positive reviews.

  7. Angi Barnett says:

    My boy said it is spectacularly awesome….

  8. Dax says:

    My kids didn’t move throughout the whole movie and as excited as they were to see the movie were not dissappointed at all. The movie slowed a bit in parts, but all in all it was a really good family movie.

  9. Hollie says:

    I took my daughter to see Kung Fu Panda 2 yesterday, and we both liked it! My daughter (7) sat throughout the entire movie and didn’t seem antsy, which means the movie kept her attention well! I thought it was a cute, entertaining movie. Not award winning or anything, but good.

  10. Rob says:

    I took my daughter to see Kung Fu Panda 2 and we both enjoyed. I will agree it wasn’t as unique asthe first, but then again most sequels are not. It still had plenty of good laughs for both of us and it moved along well. It will be interesting to see if they make third movie with how this one ended. And I give them props for having some back story and trying to have a more in-depth story line in the sequel.

  11. Alyssa Beard says:

    I enjoyed "Kung Fu Panda 2", but I have not seen the first "Kung Fu Panda". Maybe that is why I liked the 2nd so much. In a way "Kung Fu Panda 2" reminded me of classic kung fu Bruce Li films, but made for children. The theater I saw it at was full of kids, but also parents and grandparents. Everyone seemed to enjoy it equally. The movie has a lot of heart, and sometimes the emotion in it was almost overwhelming. This isn’t just a mindless action or kid’s movie.

  12. Melissa Lechuga says:

    I commend you on your honesty. But as others have posted, you might want to give it another chance. I really liked the back story of Po. And the point of the movie to me was. No matter if you’re the most powerful kung-fu master, you still need your friends/family to support you through the hard times. And that was really touching.

  13. My Goddaughter loved the movie!

  14. Bliss says:

    The novelty of the first movie is definitely missing. Isn’t that always the case with sequels though?

    My kids enjoyed the movie. It was a little to intense for my 6 year old. She took off the glasses and watched it blurry. I fully expected this. Most kids movies are just adult action flicks, with potty humor and animation.

    I find this somewhat disturbing. It’s okay to expose kids to all this violence as long as it’s animated. I find the whole kid film industry laughable. Every bit as much violence as the adult movies, but nobody really dies or gets hurt. Hmmmmm, what message does that send?

  15. Andrew Doehrman says:

    I really enjoyed "Kung Fu Panda 2." I’ll concede that it wasn’t as good as the first film, but I still felt it had enough humor, heart, and kung fu action to make for an overall enjoyable experience at the movies.

  16. Lance says:

    I really liked the first one, and I haven’t seen this one yet. After reading this review, part of me wants to wait til it hits DVD and the other part wants to go check it out just cuz I like kung fu. Either way, thanks for the outlook on the flick.

  17. Randi Slavey says:

    I think sometimes as adults we forget these movies are made for KIDS ya now a days the movie makers feel they have to make the movie fun for the adults too but this isn’t true…. My husband is taking my daughter to see this; they saw the 1st one at the movies. This is there lil daddy & daughter time. He isn’t going in the thearter thinking this was made to entertain him a 35 year old man but thinking hey my lil girl will remember this day like she has with Toy Story 3 Kung Fu Panda & Shrek4; if that was the case he would go buy a ticket to see Hang Over 2 something he can’t take his 5yr old to see…..

  18. Mary S says:

    While I appreciate your honesty of falling asleep, I disagree with your review. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Anyone who reads this review please don’t let it persuade you from missing out on a great family movie.

  19. mito says:

    All you have to do is watch a movie once a week and write about it? And you fell asleep? Maybe you should try again. yes?

  20. ajr says:

    This from the guy that gave 4 out of 5 to the Tourist – very reliable. You can’t judge all movies from the same ivory tower – but you might have known that if you weren’t sleeping on the job.

  21. Jeronimo says:

    This sequel is also missing something else: Tai Lung.

    Do not want.