Normally I don't like these types of movies that have their foundation in stereotypes but I enjoyed the first one so I thought I've give the second one a look too..... I'll talk about the stereotypes in another post. Yes, otherwise this review is going to get sidetracked on a ranting tangent.
It also helps that I'm a fan of Jack Black. His opening narrative had me laughing already.
"I see you like to chew. Maybe you should chew... ON MY FIST!"
The second thing I noticed was the voice actor for the Dad, James Hong. Is it just me or does he do a lot of his work in restaurants? He was the host of a restaurant in the Seinfeld episode “The Chinese Restaurant”, in a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory, in the episode "Color Blind" during the first season of Alias and in a few episodes on The King of Queens. ╮(╯_╰)╭
Any way, Po the panda, fat, goofy and likable (kinda like Jack Black himself), is sort of like one of us, normal guy, daydreams about kung fu, works in noodle shop. Ok that last part probably doesn't apply to most people but you get what I mean. You know he's going to live out his dream, not least because the trailers gave it all away. (- -____||||)
Despite this, I liked the development building up to his becoming the real Dragon Warrior. The initial awkwardness between the Furious Five and Po came off very naturally, especially Crane.
One thing that gave me pause concerned the names, two names in particular. Oogway and Shifu. For those of you who don't know, Oogway means 'turtle' and Shifu means 'master'. If everyone else is going to be called Mantis, Tigress, Monkey, etc. why are these two named oddly? Especially Shifu, whom they call Master Shifu, which is actually redundant. If the writers really wanted to be culturally respectful they could have used the term Shifu properly. I'm sure they could have found a way to communicate to the audience what it meant. Hell, they even pronounce it in the ignorant way. ('shi' sounds more like the first phoneme of 'shirt') This post isn't about me giving you Chinese lessons, though.
None of Oogway's dialogue was special. All of it came from stock 'kung fu master' stuff we've all heard before, perhaps even read in our fortune cookies.
I really liked Tai Long's escape sequence. The prison looked great and all the defenses looked very convincing. Michael Clarke Duncan gives a funny performance as the rhino prison warden.
All of the fight scenes looked amazing, no I'll expand that, all of the action scenes looked amazing. Wonderful animation from DreamWorks this time around.
The final fight played out very well. Po's fat making him impervious to Tai Long's pressure point strikes made a very good twist. This had some foreshadowing early on when Mantis gave him acupuncture treatment but I had forgotten by the time the fight came around.
All in all an enjoyable film.