Kung Fu Panda 2: Evolution of a hero's journey

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a worthy sequel to the first Kung Fu Panda (2008) and full of awesomeness from DreamWorks animation, the studio started by Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg who also brought us last year’s MegaMind (2010), How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Over the Hedge (2006), the Shrek movies, and the Madagascar movies. 

Last time we saw our big dreamer panda hero Po (voiced by Jack Black) and the Furious Five, he had just become the Dragon Warrior. Now Po’s next task is to achieve inner peace, but he is more confused and frustrated than ever because he wants to know things about his past without offending his loving father, who is a goose, and who doesn’t have the answers Po is looking for.

Meanwhile, there appears a new villain who threatens China’s peace with a new weapon that uses the power of gun powder. Previously only used in fireworks celebrations, it is now being used for more sinister and war like purposes by the proud Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) who wants to control all of China and destroy Kung Fu with his powerful new invention; cannons.

While the Furious Five, voiced by Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Jackie Chan (Monkey), Seth Rogen (Mantis), Lucy Liu (Viper), and David Cross (Crane), are trying to stop the devious Lord Shen’s forces, Po tries to discover where he came from and how he came to be the adoptive son of a goose. It seems the menacing Lord Shen himself has some of the answers Po is looking for but without inner peace Po will not be able to defeat him and only when he finds the truth about his past does he achieve inner peace.  The truth turns out to be quite a dark tale but it’s told in flashback with enough exciting action and humor that it pays off in the end. 

One of the things I liked about the first Kung Fu Panda was the brilliant color pallet and picturesque Chinese landscapes. This new movie delivers the same striking color schemes and stunning big vistas although in somewhat darker shades. The story too is a bit darker this time but still enjoyable for the whole family.

It is one of the most popular films in China where the government only allows 20 foreign films to be released per year because of strict censorship laws that only allow for movies with a positive message to be shown to its people. Kung Fu Panda 2 passed with flying colors being respectful of the Chinese culture while delivering a positive message about loyalty and how the truth can help us to realize our potential. Much like the current Arab revolution, once the truth about the Arab leaders was exposed to the world as ruthless, murdering dictators squandering the wealth of their countries, one person’s defiance and sacrifice inspired everyone to rise up against them no matter the odds.

With the Kung Fu Panda series DreamWorks has started to apply the lessons learned from Pixar’s animated films and made their stories more timeless without all the pop culture references that they were becoming known for, so that people can enjoy these films for years to come without becoming dated.


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