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Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2

After a really long time, I actually felt like watching a movie in the theatre. Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 were on my must-watch list, and I’m glad to have struck one off.

So, sis, bro-in-law and my 3yr old nephew reached Inox for the 11.15am show on a Friday morning. There was quite a bit of rush at the ticket counters, possibly for Hangover 2 along with this one. We saw a couple of kiosks beside those counters, which were meant for printing tickets that were booked online. There was also a slot for swiping a card. I’d never seen these kiosks before and found them quite a welcome introduction – after punching in a couple of numbers, we got our tickets in a jiffy.

There was a bit of concern initially when sis realised the movie was in 3D, mainly to do with whether my nephew would be able to watch / appreciate it. More so without the headaches/dizzy spells people cribbed about when wearing those cheap 3D glasses. At Inox, the glasses were slightly big for him but mercifully, the quality of the glasses this time around was much better, and I’m sure the Rs.100 refundable deposit must have ensured they were returned in good condition. 🙂

Those who watched the original Kung Fu Panda movie would need no introduction to Po – the panda, now designated as the Dragon Warrior, Master Shifu, and of course, the faithful sidekicks, the Furious Five. The movie begins on an idyllic note with Po playing his role of the protector and there are moments of mirth at Master Shifu’s attempts to get Po to pursue ‘inner peace’ as part of his training. 😀

During an attack on the village, Po is confronted by the leader of the wolves and seeing a certain symbol puts him into flashback mode, where some painful memories get stoked. A bit of melodrama ensues, as Mr.Ping the goose, Po’s father, tells Po he was found in a basket and was adopted and raised by him. In the meanwhile, Master Shifu is informed that there is a new enemy lurking, Lord Shen – who has a powerful weapon (a cannon with gunpowder) at his disposal, and who intends to obliterate martial arts (kung fu) and China.

Kung Fu Panda 2 Lord Shen

Frankly, Lord Shen was a BIG surprise for me. Far from being any ghoulish or hideous looking creature, it was…  a peacock! Quite a dandy and decked out peacock that too, with a cruel glint in it’s eye. 🙂

The story then moves on to Po’s fight with Lord Shen – not only to rescue China and the kung-fu tradition, but also to uncover the secrets of his past, and what became of his parents. When Po was a baby, the Soothsayer had warned Shen that his reign would be ended by a black and white warrior. In a fit of rage, Shen sent his pack of wolves to finish off the tribe of pandas, which forms the backdrop to Po being ‘abandoned’ by his parents.

During the epic battle aboard the ship, Shen finally uses the cannon to blast Po and the Furious Five into the sea. Po, given up for dead, is nursed back to health by the Soothsayer, who tells Po he’s in the place he was born, and coaxes him to remember details of the past, till the point where his mother hides him in the basket to avoid detection by the wolves. Po remembers his foster father, his friends, and realises that it is not the past, but the present that defines him and who he is now. Once he discovers ‘inner peace’, good must triumph over evil, which it does.

I thought the movie was pretty well made and not too long. It does have more emotion than the first one, which was needed, but I felt some of the sentimental bits could have been shorter. It would have also been nice to see the characters of the Furious Five fleshed out a bit more, and only the Tigress gets some extra screen space here. Jack Black (Po) and Angelina Jolie (Tigress) are brilliant as ever. Dustin Hoffman (Shifu) reprises his role and Gary Oldman brings just the right degree of menace and cruelty into Lord Shen’s character.

The visuals, special effects and fight scenes are kickass and breathtaking, though frankly, the “3D-ness” of it all left me slightly underwhelmed. Oh yes, in keeping with current ‘sequel’ trends, the ending of the movie ensures that there is probably a Kung Fu Panda 3 in the works.

As a rule, I’m not too fond of sequels, but this one is definitely a worthy sequel to its predecessor and a fun movie which both adults and kids will really enjoy.

Go watch! 😀

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