Kung Fu Panda. I’m sure the first movie was greenlit with the hope that the studio could have a big franchise that it could exploit for years. What right-minded studio wouldn’t? And since that first movie was so much fun and made so much money, of course a sequel was on the cards. Which brings us to Kung Fu Panda 2.
I understand that animated movies are a huge industry—not the business—the movies themselves. Toys, lunch boxes, school gear, playtime gear and who knows what other unimaginable means of squeezing revenue out of a single property.
This time around Po and his buddies are fighting to save the very future of Kung Fu. Because, you see, the bad guy has invented a weapon that renders the average warrior’s years spent in martial arts training redundant. He has firepower (of the cannons, gunpowder and cannonball kind). So in a sense, they are just trying to validate their own choices versus those of others.
The film looks great, rivaling the best efforts of Pixar. Po, the giant huggable panda is as lovable as ever. And it is probably the size of his heart that prevents this sequel from resembling a giant pile of fresh manure. There are way too many characters in this movie and like Fast Five before it, that means that there are way too many minutes wasted in talking when they should be spent in fighting or cracking wise.
The film has funny moments but it isn’t as satisfying as the earlier film. And as a friend wisely pointed out, if no movie is attempting character development on anything greater than the most rudimentary scale, I should just stop expecting it.
I watched Kung Fu Panda 2 in old-fashioned 2D and I have to say that it did very little for me. The room I watched it in seemed more receptive to the sight gags and turns of phrases. Me, I just kept thinking, ‘Your villain is a peacock. Come on!’
So in my view, far from being a decent animated movie, I have my doubts whether Kung Fu Panda 2 will even be able to claim the crown of ‘best animated movie of this year’.
Ah well, there’s always next time.