Kung Fu Panda 2: A Movie Review

Figuring that the return of Captain Jack Sparrow was an excuse to venture out to the movies again, I suggested to Mary that we see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, but she had other ideas.  She showed me the 4-star review of Kung Fu Panda 2.  Ever since Up, 2009 I have been ready to see any animated movie with that kind of review, so off we went.

Here’s my summary:  if you trust any book or movie review I have posted here; if you think there is any chance my opinions align with your own, see this wonderful film.  Take the entire family.  This is an absolute gem.

Po the Panda seems like an unlikely Dragon Warrior – think of Jack Black, who does his voice – but likely or not, there he is with his allies, the Formidable Five, defending the Valley of Peace.  That peace is shattered by Shen, the evil peacock, who has a terrible weapon and the ambition to conquer all of China.

Po has other concerns as well.  His kung fu master tells him he must find inner peace to have any hope of success.  “Inner piece of what?” Po asks.  Memories from his past arise too, drawing Po into the question of who he is and where all the other Pandas have gone.

I didn’t see the first Kung Fu Panda (I plan to now), so I cannot comment on the comparisons between the two movies other bloggers make, but I can say this story was flawlessly paced, the visuals were spectacular, and the 3D did not bother me as it has in the past.  In addition to being marvelous entertainment, I was delighted to see a “family film” pose some very serious spiritual questions and values in a completely non-preachy way:

  • Upon a foundation of inner peace, you can accomplish what needs to be done.
  • “Who am I, really?” is perhaps the most important question we all have to ask.
  • Courage matters, as does loyalty to your friends and a worthy cause.
As I left the theater, I thought of one of my heroes.  Recently I said on this blog that I didn’t have any heroes, but that was not correct – Jim Henson (1936-1990) has always been a hero of mine, and I thought of his breakthrough animated movie, Dark Crystal.  Anyone who harbors a lingering notion that animation is somehow “less than” other sorts of films should check out this pioneering effort, made in 1982.  I like to think how much Henson, who died tragically at 53, would have loved the newest developments in animated filmmaking, and how much he would have enjoyed this offering.

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