Over at MTV Movies Blog, we’ve already laid out the five reasons you need to see “Kung Fu Panda 2.” From Jack Black’s manically hilarious turn as Po to some wickedly creative fight scenes, this sequel is a ton of fun.
But hey, don’t just take our word for it. Reviewers are riding high on this animal adventure, a follow-up to DreamWorks’ 2008 animated hit, celebrating the lush visuals and the top-notch voice performance Black delivers. Dissenters are few and far between, and their criticisms read more like nitpicking and fail to acknowledge that kids will undoubtedly get a kick out of this flick.
“Deepening the surprising maturity of its predecessor, the movie successfully takes story beats from classic kung fu stories and dials back on the humor without letting things get too dark and dramatic, creating a work that is both meditative and immensely entertaining. Picking up where the first film left off, Po (Jack Black) has eased into his position as the Dragon Warrior, when the world of kung fu is threatened by the return of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), a villain who has built a weapon of mass destruction. What Po doesn’t know, however, is that Lord Shen holds the key to his history and the knowledge of who he really is. Working with the kung fu masters known as the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen and Jackie Chan), Po is not only on a mission to save China, but on a journey of self-discovery.” — Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend
“Aside from crisp visuals and no-fat way with martial arts movie traditions, the biggest achievement of the ’Kung Fu Panda’ movies is how they distill their star’s very Jack Black-ness down to its most bearable form. Always the wildest guy in the room, Black has turned into a living ’Gulliver’s Travels.’ Yet here, as in the first ’KFP,’ he gives a charmingly vulnerable but sly vocal performance, with plenty of sass and a decent side order of soul.” — Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
“Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s background in design and animation seems to have informed the best parts of ’Kung Fu Panda 2’ — its splendid palette of color and detail, rich but crisp and balanced (Guillermo del Toro served as a creative consultant, and one of Po’s murky, indelible nightmares bears his distinctive mark); and that palette’s harmony with both the engaged use of 3-D and the witty and well-defined battle sequences.” — Michelle Orange, Movieline
“This one plays with some unusually dark and upsetting material. Its escalation of evil messes up the high-spirited sweetness that was the most winning feature of the first movie. Po’s clumsy, goofy eagerness no longer seems quite as amusing now that he is a psychologically damaged warrior. And his action-team entourage, drawn from various species of animal and movie star — praying mantis, tiger, monkey, etc; Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, etc. — do more to crowd the picture than to enliven it.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
The Final Word
“There is a price to be paid for the visual razzle-dazzle — wonderful complexity against a simple story that could have benefited from some bulking up (layered, not longer). Still with Black shelving his usual snark for Po’s self-deprecating charm, Jolie making Tigress terrifyingly overqualified for everything as only she can do, Rogen’s Mantis showing the actor’s growing facility for voicing animation and [Dustin] Hoffman, as ever, the guru everyone wants, they’ve brought this warrior’s tale to kicking, spinning, bone-crunching, feather-flying life.” — Betsey Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
Check out everything we’ve got on “Kung Fu Panda 2.”
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