Sunday, May 29, 2011

Long Live Kung Fu: 'Kung Fu Panda 2' Trailer 2

It starts promsingly enough. Picking up where the first film left off, this sequel zips and bounds and chops its way into your consciousness in the manner we've come to expect from nerd-rebel-provocateur Jack Black.

And then, amidst the one-liners and the body functions, it suddenly veers left into existential family identity reflection. In battling a new weapon being made by the evil Lord Shen (voiced with classic creepiness by Gary Oldman), our hero comes up against the question  that every four-year old asks: "where did I come from?" In his case, that leads to a running sub-plot of very intense scenes that in turn set up the Dragon warriors for a massive confrontation with Shen.

In other words, not your typical kiddie-cartoon feature. In fairness though, our panda hero doesn't lose too much of that bouncy snap-crackle of the first film, but the overall viewing experience is one of considerable duality. Which is understandable when one learns that director Jennifer Yuh's credits - as a storyboard artist - include the "Spawn" TV series and the nihilistic feature film "Dark City".

So, while this sequel won't outright creep you out, there is just enough of the "out there" factor to give more cautious parents some pause, especially if your kids are, say,  under 6 years old. Otherwise, its a pretty decent upgrade of a Hollywood franchise. All of the high-profile voice talent (Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan) does a great job, but Oldman as mentioned earlier, takes top honours, and Dennis Haysbert (the "Allstate" guy; not the "Mayhem" one) also invests his minor character, Master Ox, with palpable feeling.

Its a weird outing - for a big-budget animated feature, but an interesting one.

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