Kung Fu Panda 2
Reason for the Rating: Sequences of martial arts action and mild violence.
Plot Summary: There’s a new villain threatening China, a peacock who has created a weapon that can beat Kung Fu, and Po and the Furious Five must stop him
PopFam Recommends: The martial arts action might be intense for your youngest kids, but this is a fun and exciting movie that the entire family will enjoy.
Have you ever pictured one of the most evil villains threatening the world as a…peacock? I haven’t. But then stranger things have happened. After all, Po, a cuddly panda, has a goose for a dad. The unlikely pairing of a super-villain peacock and a panda with daddy issues sets the scene for the surprisingly fun sequel to Kung Fu Panda.
Shen (Gary Oldman), said evil peacock, is from a city that developed fireworks for beauty and fun. But Shen began to use this new knowledge to create something dark and dangerous, a weapon. His parents sent him away, with much regret, for the safety of the city. But Shen secretly works for years to develop firepower and now plans to use it to avenge his parents’ treatment of him, take over all of China, and end Kung Fu. It’s a The Last Samurai of China of sorts.
Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is teaching Po (Jack Black) how to find inner peace (and not just his inner stomach growling) when they learn the news. Dragon Warrior Po and the Furious Five must stop Shen before he destroys China and Kung Fu. But as Po encounters Shen and his wolf allies, he begins having flash backs, memories from his childhood. He begins to wonder where he came from and realizes that he must reconcile with his painful past in order to find true inner peace.
Sequels are always a bit scary—you hope the filmmakers won’t ruin a good thing. And in this case, they haven’t. What seems like it might be a ridiculous foundation, namely a crazed peacock villain, is pulled off beautifully by Gary Oldman. His manic charisma and twisted mind make a perfectly believable (and enjoyable) villain. (It kind of made me want to be a kung fu peacock.) And Shen’s storyline dovetails perfectly with Po’s. Both struggle to deal with the perceived injustices dealt them in the past. Shen takes a route of revenge, whereas Po chooses that the past injustices won’t define him, but the choices he makes each day and the friends and family he has will.
This central theme of the movie is positive, but some parents may be wary of the Eastern themes of “inner peace” and the use of the yin yang symbol, which is used to symbolize a soothsayer’s vision that a black and white hero will ultimately defeat Shen.
The visuals of this movie are beautiful and exciting—the stunning China countryside interlaced with the fast fight scenes of the Dragon Warrior and the Furious Five. I even found the 3D enhanced the visuals, rather than detracting from it as it sometimes does. The story holds up to the pace of the movie, creating a movie that is fun enough for the kids, interesting for the adults, and funny for all.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is a great movie to kick off the summer with your family!
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• Tigress is “hard core” as can be, but she still takes time to comfort Po. What can you learn from Tigress about being a caring tiger…err person…even when being tough and disciplined?
• Po needs to find inner peace in order to have the concentration to be a kung fu warrior. Where do you think real inner peace comes from?
• Master Shifu says the hardest thing he’s ever had to deal with was finding out Po was the Dragon Warrior. Po had to deal with learning the sad truth of his past. What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with, and how did you deal with it?
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