Kung Fu Panda 2 - Review

For me personally, the first "Kung Fu Panda" was a surprise hit. While it by far was no groundbreakingly new experience, i watched it with zero expectations but ended up with 100% fun.
Question is if its 2011 sequel "Kung Fu Panda 2" manages to entertain just as the first one did.

The plot:
Po is now living his dream as the Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends the Furious Five. But Po's new life is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. It is up to Po and the Furious Five to journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu? He must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins. Only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.

"Kung Fu Panda 2"'s main focus clearly is on the origin stories of the characters. This time we FINALLY get an interesting insight into Po's past (and why his dad is a fuckin' goose! that really made me scratching my head during the first movie).
But not only Po's backstory is a main topic here but also the one of the new main antagonist Lord Shen (who kind of acts like a bond villain), which is fundamentally connected to Po's. Both backstories struck me with ending up being pretty dark and moody. It's nothing brutal or violent that kids won't be able to deal with but it sure is a contrast compared to the lighthearted original.

Also "Kung Fu Panda 2" turns out to be far more deep and emotional. The father son relationship is developed very effectively and often results in some very touching moments. Plus it makes Po's goose father even more likable than he already was.

Regarding the flow of the story, "Kung Fu Panda 2" feels much faster than the original. It picks up right where the first one left off and now focuses not only on Po but on the entire team of the Furious Five (although Po still is the clumsiest and goofiest of the bunch). With this said, the movie features numerous action scenes to keep the kids entertained. Unfortunately, this often weakens the main story in a way but not too much.

But what about the comedy? I am glad to say that "Kung Fu Panda 2" handles the balance between kidfriendly humor and adult humor very well without going into extremes (different than "Rango" or "Rio"). Additionally, the kidfriendly humor makes up for the dark parts of the movie, so that children end up leaving the theater with a good mood.

Of course the movie's voice acting, just like its visuals, are top notch. With such a great ensemble cast (Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Gary Oldman, etc.) and an awesome studio like DreamWorks, how can you go wrong? There's nothing much else to say here.

All in all, "Kung Fu Panda 2" sure doesn't feel as fresh as the original but gives the audience just enough new things to gaze at (better action, backstory, interesting villain,..) to ultimately be on a par the first one.
After very polarising animation flicks like "Rango" and "Rio", this time both kids and adults can without any worries go watch "Kung Fu Panda 2".

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10


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