Kung-Fu Panda 2 [Blu-Ray] Jennifer Yuh

Kung-Fu Panda 2 [Blu-Ray] Jennifer Yuh
The biggest surprise about the original Kung-Fu Panda ― a seemingly crass studio concept recycling the most abhorrent of anachronistic pop culture nonsense, with the abrasive Jack Black in the middle of it all ― is that it was really quite good. The animation was vivid and richly textured; the action set pieces were intense and dynamic; the story was solid and engaging; and the jokes were moderately funny. An even bigger surprise is that the sequel ― in a year with garbage like Cars 2 and Happy Feet 2 ― is also quite good, actually surpassing the original in thematic depth and development, even if the comedy and "fun" suffer a bit in the process. This time out, Po (Black) tenuously acknowledges the idea of genocide, learning of his adoptive roots and past scars while seeking inner-peace, something defined by the present in removing the self from a tumultuous past. This quest is made literal by a conflict with Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), whose similarly troublesome path has led him down a darker life path than our perpetually hungry, cuddly hero, causing strife throughout China when Shen's army takes all metal products from the people to build advanced weaponry. As the didactics weave a complex tapestry in the background, Po, Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross) repeatedly lose conflict after conflict, learning something about perseverance while doling out far more subdued gags than those in its predecessor. Arguably, the limited comedy involving Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) ― a ram ― repeatedly eating stray objects and clothing after delivering philosophical musings, Po bumbling in battle and a clever scatological videogame reference aren't quite enough to support a film intended for children. But since there is an abundance of action to compensate, nicely accompanied by creative variations on real life locales, the easily distracted should have enough to keep them engaged. Included with the Blu-Ray are an interactive supplement on said real-life locales, as well as a fun trivia track and some information on the animation. Other features include a short Kung-Fu panda film with inferior animation, as well as information about the voice cast, other DreamWorks films and pandas. A commentary track, Kung-Fu Shuffle game and "Learn to speak Chinese" featurette round out the exceedingly comprehensive and impressive package. (Paramount)