Simply awesome sequel

2011-06-13 00:00

THE first 3-D film screening in Pietermaritzburg could not have asked for a better visual spectacle and all-round fantastic film.

Where animated sequels usually end up regurgitating the formula of what made the initial one a success, it seems the Dreamworks creators have learned a thing or two.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is, quite simply, twice the awesomeness of the first offering.

A large part of the success of the film is Jack Black’s voice rendering of Po the Panda, certainly one of the most likeable animated characters in recent years.

The narrative is essentially suited for a younger generation, but, as with Toy Story 3, thematical elements in animation features are becoming increasingly more profound in their packaging.

In Panda 2 it’s the way the characters, the voices and visual nuances all blend together, which makes these points all the more pressing.

In the first instalment panda bear Po (Black) came into his birthright as the Dragon Warrior.

In Panda 2 he is continuing his training under the tutelage of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), and the lesson this time round is the search for “inner peace”.

Accompanied by the Furious Five Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross), Po sets out on a mission to foil a group of bandits terrorising a nearby village in search of metal for a weapon of mass destruction, masterminded by Lord Shen the peacock (Gary Oldman).

His soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) has prophesied he will be killed at the paws of a panda, which leads to his quivering fear of them and explains the obliteration of pandas many years ago.

However, one of them — the aforementioned Po — got away, and so unfolds the tale of Po’s quest to discover his past and the evil Shen’s aim to capture and destroy him.

The ending of Panda 2 leads us to assume there's a third installment on the cards.

Normally this sort of thing makes me cringe, but if I laugh even half as much in the next one and enjoy it just a fraction as much as I did this, it’ll be worth awaiting with anticipation rather than trepidation. ****

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