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Kung Fu Panda 2 - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD)

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Genre: Children's DVDs - Animation / Parental Guidance / Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson / Actors: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan ... / Blu-ray released 2011-11-14 at Paramount Home Entertainment

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      27.02.2012 12:37
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      A beautifully crafted sequel and definitely one to watch for adults and children alike.

      Kung Fu Panda 2

      Film and Blu Ray DVD review

      I can not say enough about this movie. Well we shall see.

      I think this is one of the finest animated movies ever made and the fact that it was overshadowed for an Oscar nomination by 'Cars 2' is way beyond me.

      I enjoyed the first movie and was looking forward to watching this but it outshone my expectations and then some.

      The Premise

      Po Ping, the loveable panda, son of a.....Goose(ahem) and all round conquering kung-fu hero of the world he inhabits is enjoying life and relaxing with his kung-fu hero friends. His father, Mr Ping is happy running the noodle and dumpling restaurant and all is well.

      The evil peacock Shen has other plans and his dream of ruling the whole of China is threatening to become a reality. He wants his hordes of Wolves to collect every piece of metal they can find to run his metal cannons, which he describes as the end of Kung-Fu. Shen was shunned by his parents and China many years before for killing almost every panda in existence after hearing his fortune told, which revealed that a black and white warrior would stop him in the future.

      Now an outcast Shen has sworn revenge on China and over many years he has built an army of wolves and put in to practice his evil plans to become the ruler of the lands.

      When Shen's wolves attack Po's village for metal, Po and his kung-fu buddies block their way. That is until one of the wolf sergeants knocks Po out. In the stand off with the wolf, Po has flashbacks and sees a symbol that is familiar to him somehow. He sees his mother for the first time in this vision and while off guard he is knocked out by the wolf sergeant.

      This leads Po to ask Mr Ping who his real parents were.

      What entails is a story of courage, of strength and of sorrow as Po finds out about his history and the fate of his parents.

      What role did the evil Shen play in Po's past and can Po stop him from ruling all of China in the future?

      Will Po be able to find inner peace and defeat the evil Shen with his kung-fu buddies? He is the Dragon Warrior after all and has lost a bit of weight, but can he come to terms with his past and rise above his misgivings to once again be the champion of his people!

      My Thoughts

      This movie absolutely blew me away. From the moment it stated with the DreamWorks logo changed to Master Shifu (Pos master) fishing on the moon, I knew it was going to be something special.

      The movie is directed by Jennifer Yuh and I for one will be looking out for her future work. It is reported that she worked he proverbial backside off on this movie and it was not easy. The character of Shen, the evil peacock (voiced superbly by Gary Oldman) was a nightmare to create and bring to life, so to speak. Yuh has been quoted as saying that Shen was as difficult to create as creating six characters.

      I can't see how anyone can watch this movie and not marvel at the animation, the scene settings, the music and the brilliant voice performances.

      Jack Black is again fantastic as Po and I don't think anyone else would have been able to capture him like Jack has. Some of his one liners are brilliant and delivered in a way that only Jack Black knows how. There was a few trailers to launch the movie and one of them features Po walking up to the supposed cinema screen and staring out at the audience. He announces OK Kung Fu staring competition....go and proceeds to starte at the screen for a mind boggling sixteen seconds before saying You guys look amazing by the way.

      The fight scenes are really well done and the choreography was handled by a real life fully fledged martial art expert, Rudolph Guenoden and what a fine job he did.

      The script is fast paced and well thought out. A lot of animation movies leave you feeling that although they look impressive and are fun that by the hour mark you have had enough. Kung Fu Panda 2s script and plot line actually keep you engaged throughout the whole movie and it is a very enjoyable experience. The writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger must have really got it down before finalising the completed script and it shows. At ninety one minutes in length I was not the least bit bored. The writers also produced the movie.

      One of the suprising guest elements of this movie and one that most people probably dont know is the fact that the executive producer was Guillermo del Toro and he is known to be very enthusiastic in his love of this work.

      I love everything about this movie as you can tell and I think it is the most underrated animated movie of recent times. Disney always has that special Disney feel to it but sometimes the story can lack a little edge. I am a big fan of Studio Gibli and they have great stories but sometimes the animation is lacking, even though, to be fair it is done in that style on purpose. But Kung Fu Panda 2 has the animation and the storyline and I think it deserves more recognition that it gets, albeit it had raised six hundred and thirty million dollars as of December 2011.

      The score to the movie is enchanting and I love that oriental vibe and flowing chant that seems to float around the edges of the film. This is down to the amazing team of John Powell and Hans Zimmer, who are no strangers to making great musical scores and this movie gave them the scope to create something beautiful as well as exciting.

      The end credits of the movie are really cool as well and take you on a journey through baby Pos life. i wont go into any details here as I dont want to spoil the movie for anyone.

      Notes on the Cast

      Po Ping - Jack Black

      The irrepressible Mr Black does not disappoint in the second movie and he really has made the part of Po his own. As I said earlier in the review, I dont think anyone else could carry it off like Jack does. His own brand of humour really brings Po to life and you just know that he brings energy and enthusiasm to the role, which must rub off on the rest of the cast in spades.

      Tigress - Angelina Jolie

      Tigress is one of my favourite characters. She has that cold, calculated and abrupt demeanour but under it all she is caring and compassionate. I would say that she loves Po like a brother and is usually the one to save him from his numerous scrapes. Angelina gives her voice that svelte, seductive quality that only a feline can possess.

      Shifu - Dustin Hoffman

      Dustin Hoffman also returns as Pos master, Shifu, the tiny, but powerful, ever-wise little character that is this movie's Mr miyagi. In this movie he describes the day that he decided to train Po as the single most, worst day of his existence but he cares for Po like a father. There are some great scenes with him in the movie, including the Inner Peace scene, which is great.

      Shen - Gary Oldman

      What a voice over casting director's dream. Oldman gives the evil Peacock a really sly and smarmy drawl that is perfect. Again, as with many of the cast, I don't think anyone else could have voiced Shen as good as Oldman does. A great performance and one of the movies highlights.

      Mantis - Seth Rogan

      One of my personal favourites. The tiny preying mantis is so funny in so many ways, least of all some of the one-liners that Rogan delivers with aplomb.

      I never had a problem with my Dad...probably because my mother ate his head when I was born. Just one of the many funny lines from him in the movie. Very surprising to find out that this character was voiced by Seth as he has quite a deep voice and Mantis has a tiny, funnily enough, cartoony voice.

      Monkey - Jackie Chan

      Jackie Chan is a likeable guy and so is Monkey. Not a massive part to play in the movie but what he does do he does well. Some funny moments to note, one being an alarm he is meant to give the gang when trouble is coming. I won't spoil it for you if you want to see the movie.

      Viper - Lucy Lui

      Small, quick, svelte and deadly. The Viper is very much the same as well. Again not a huge part in the movie but Lucy voices Viper well and has some good scenes.

      Crane - David Cross

      Crane is sort of like the Rabbit out of the Winnie the Pooh series. He tries to be the voice of reason and act all wise but really he is just as hopeless in a dangerous situation as Po. Davis Cross is not that well known outside of these movies but he voices the role well.

      Master Croc - Jean-claude Van Damme

      I had to mention this even though I am not a fan of the muscles from brussels. It is only really a cameo but worth mentioning for the box splits that Master Croc does near the end of the movie to pay homage to Van Dammes trademark move.

      Mr Ping - James Hong

      I love this character and James Hong plays Pos foster parent so well. His OCDs when it comes to cooking are priceless and the way he offers his customers something for something is hilarious. The character is so well drawn and some of the movies most touching moments come through him.

      Specifics

      PG rating.

      Released on 22nd May in the United States and in June in the UK and across most of Europe.

      Budget of one hundred and thirty million Dollars.

      Made forty-seven million on its opening weekend.

      Has no grossed, as of December 2011, six hundred and thirty million.

      Is now the biggest ever earning movie for a female director.

      Blue Ray DVD Specifics and Extras

      Subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

      The Blue Ray disk gives the movie that crisp finish and polished look that it deserves. It enables you to watch the movie how the makers intended and with the HD settings a Dolby variations the soundtrack is simple brilliant.

      There are some great extras on the disk and I'll mention some of them now.

      Nickeleodeon's Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness television series . One episode, which is great.

      'Kickin' It' with the Cast featurette which highlights old and new cast members with great insights and interviews.

      Three deleted scenes, hosted by director Jennifer Yuh (Jennifer Yuh Nelson on the featurettes, using her married name).

      Filmmakers' commentary with director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, producer Melissa Cobb, production designer Raymond Zibach, and supervising animator, kung fu choreographer, and story artist Rodolphe Guenoden .

      World of DreamWorks Animation promos . Superb insight into how it could've looked and how it did.

      Previews and a sneak peek at DreamWorks Animation's 'How To Train Your Dragon' Arena Spectacular

      Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters feature. Great documentary.

      Panda Stories featurette on the animals that inspired Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2

      Exclusive to Blue Ray - Animation Inspiration featurette on the real locations that influenced the film

      The Animators' Corner featurette with the film's creators, animators, and cast and crew offering commentary on Kung Fu Panda 2's development

      Ni Hao--Learn Chinese featurette

      And many more extras such as Pop-up trivia track, games, memberships and add-ons.

      All in all a great DVD with many brilliant extras to keep you occupied way after the movie has ended and will probably encourage you to watch it again.

      Summing Up

      I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie to anyone. Whether you have children or not is irrelevant because this movie can be enjoyed at any age and bah humbug to the adults who say cartoons are for kids. This is not a five minute Tom and Jerry slapstick, although they were great too, this is an epic movie of epic proportions and everyone associated with it should feel nothing but proud of themselves.

      I take my hat off to DreamWorks. I take my hat off to the animators, script writers and score writers. I take my hat off to the brilliant cast and above all a massive doff of the cap to Jennifer Yuh, who for me has directed one of 2011s most memorable movies.


      ©Lee Billingham

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