It’s rare that a sequel is better than the original (aside from The Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, of course) but this second outing for the lovable kung fu fighting panda is a surprise improvement on its enjoyable predecessor.
Big-bellied panda Po (Black) is happy protecting the Valley of Peace with his pals Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey, but there’s a bad peacock named Lord Shen (Oldman, suitably seething and sinister) on his way who may be their scariest foe ever. It seems Lord Shen is building a mighty machine that even kung fu can’t stop, and there’s even more danger ahead – a soothsayer once told Shen he would be killed by a ‘warrior of black and white’, and his reaction to the news affects both Po’s past and his future.
Beautifully animated and crisply written, this epic adventure gives us some history about Po’s origins (in a flashback we learn how Po ended up being raised by a goose) mixed with fighting scenes and a great chase across the rooftops that looks especially impressive in 3D. Throughout, there are great vocal turns, too (from a cast that now also includes Dennis Haysbert and Jean-Claude Van Damme), alongside laughs and excitement, scary bits (note that this may be too dark a movie for sensitive under-eights) and even some sad moments and cute ones (Po as a baby!). A fun, exciting animated adventure will enchant kids and adults alike.
Is Kung Fu Panda 2 suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Younger children (under-8) may find this movie quite dark and scary.
Lord Shen is quite frightening.
The flashback scene in which we discover what happened to Po’s family may upset and scare younger viewers.