Here it is:
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.
First off, a few character studies. The peacock villain, Lord Shen, was obsessed with power. He wanted to rule, and kung fu hindered his greed. His solution is to use a weapon of fire and metal to stop kung fu. He’s an outcast son who, by trying to change his future like Oedipus of old, fulfilled it. He’s full of bitterness and willing to destroy anything that gets in his way. Po, now the Dragon Warrior, faces two new challenges. One, to find “inner peace.” Two, to save kung fu from Shen’s “cup that is never full.” He’s haunted by visions from his past, and travels not only to save kung fu, but also to learn the secrets of his past. His connections with the furious five are growing, and they form a much stronger team. I love it when Po offers Shen the chance to be a new person, and offers forgiveness. How it ends is for you to see. These and other characters were great, and showed off some fun acting. The movie was full of chuckling humor, despite a couple cheesy lines.
The animation was amazing, to say the least. The 3D worked really well, with all the fighting and stunts. I really liked the diverse use of animation, with the 3D, the flat cartoon-like images, and the shadow puppets. The new range of animals, including gorillas, goats, peacocks, and a croc, was very satisfying as well. As in the first film, the fight scenes were wonderfully thought up and animated. In one particular fight scene, the music was timed precisely with each of the blows and bumps, creating a really cool experience. This describes all the music composed for this film by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. I heartily enjoyed all of the music.
Now for the movie’s effectiveness as a sequel. Unlike many companies, Dreamworks wisely planned for this movie even before releasing the first, and organized the plot around it. That was a key that made it successful. Plan ahead, far ahead. I love it when a sequel works as this one does. In the plot of saving kung fu, with the subplot of finding out about his past, Po took watchers through a wonderful adventure. They even left a cliffhanger, which gives me hope that they had also planned for a third. However, along with that are a few concerns. First, I worry that they thought up this cliffhanger on the spot, and haven’t planned far ahead. I want the third movie to be as much (if not more) of a success as this one was. Second, based on the cliffhanger, it may occur that the third movie takes the focus away from kung fu, and expands the “Po’s past” theme to be the main show. This would be a disaster.
Now for my final recommendation. This movie is slightly darker than the first, and is more intense. Not that it isn’t for kids anymore. Kids, I believe, will still enjoy this movie, maybe even more than the first. There is no language, and no inappropriate references or behavior. All the humor is clean, and actually funny. It is rated PG by MPAA for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence.
My rating: 5 stars