Kung Fu Panda 2
In the sequel to Kung Fu Panda, Po confronts his tragic past.
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson (PG)
Easily frightened children may need a little extra reassurance before watching the sequel to Kung Fu Panda, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. The violence and bloodshed of the martial arts genre have been reproduced here to “dark and upsetting” effect, dimming the “high-spirited sweetness” that made the 2008 original so appealing. Po is back, voiced once again by “the irrepressible Jack Black.” But the roly-poly panda this time must do battle with an evil peacock (“the reliably sinister” Gary Oldman) and a horde of wolves who we’re told are responsible for a panda genocide that left Po the only surviving member of his species. Actually, the story is “standard childhood fare,” said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. “Believe in yourself, family is what you make it,” et cetera, et cetera. What makes this film stand out is the animation. It is “artistry of the highest order” and delivers a “striking new level of emotion in the characters.” That means the identity crisis that Po suffers after learning he’s adopted might be all the more wrenching for kids, said Janice Page in The Boston Globe. No genocidal killings are actually shown, but the images of pursuit in Po’s childhood flashbacks can be “intensely scary.” See this movie, by all means. Just be sure that you—and your children—are prepared for it.