Now that Dragon Warrior panda Po (voiced by Black) has joined the Furious Five (Jolie's tigress, Rogen's mantis, Chan's monkey, Liu's viper and Cross' crane), there's peace in the valley again. But in a distant kingdom, the villainous peacock Lord Shen (Oldman) has developed a secret weapon with which he plans to take over China and put an end to kung fu. Although he's been rattled for decades, since his soothsayer (Yeoh) told him he'll be conquered by a panda.
And he knows the Dragon Warrior is on his way.
As before, the film's main joke is that Po is a food-obsessive lazybones, although he's also now a formidable fighter, which kind of undermines the gag.
So the screenwriters instead try to develop his relationship with Tigress while cranking up his daddy issues. He was of course raised by a noodle-cooking goose (James Hong), and Po now learns that his past is linked, Voldemort-style, with Lord Shen, who has daddy issues of his own.
None of these things are developed, but at least they give the characters motivation, and there are hints that this element will open the door to more revelations in Part 3. While it's consistently amusing, the writers could have developed the comedy much further while giving the side characters something to do (Chan, Liu and Cross have about two lines each in the whole film). All of this makes the voice performances feel somewhat subdued.
On the other hand, the vividly textured 3D animation is a great leap forward.
Action scenes are fiery and colourful, with complicated battle tactics that are both funny and thrilling. And the flashback animation is gorgeous. The film is best when it plays with the geography and architecture of China, and less interesting when the fighting takes place in another scaffold-filled warehouse.
It may not be as sharp as the first film, but this franchise still has a lot of promise.
Run time: 91 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 26th May 2011
Box Office USA: $165.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $570.6M
Distributed by: Paramount Studios/Dreamworks
Production compaines: DreamWorks Animation
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 135 Rotten: 32
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Producer: Melissa Cobb
Screenwriter: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berge
Starring: Jack Black as Po (voice), Angelina Jolie as Tigress (voice), Dustin Hoffman as Shifu (voice), Gary Oldman as Lord Shen (voice), Jackie Chan as Monkey (voice), Seth Rogen as Mantis (voice), Lucy Liu as Viper (voice), David Cross as Crane (voice), James Hong as Mr. Ping (voice), Michelle Yeoh as The Soothsayer (voice), Danny McBride as Wolf Boss (voice), Dennis Haysbert as Master Storming Ox (voice), Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Croc (voice), Victor Garber as Master Thundering Rhino (voice)
Also starring: Jean Claude Van Damme
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