I find it particularly exciting to learn the back story of Po the Panda, after I got to meet him in the first “Kung Fu Panda.” It’s like the hand held lift you get from your buddy when you need to vault yourself through the air and fight a bunch of wolves. Po’s story of inner peace, identity, and ninja-bashing is given to us in a variety of forms. Either this is a ‘triptych’ metaphor or a ‘basket weaving’ joke, I’m not sure which is best. The prologue of the film is a dusty shadow puppet tale, with a delicate paper finery that exceeds what exists in our world. The flash backs I imagine were created by a whispy 17 year old Japanese girl who grew up watching the Little Mermaid and after a long day at Dreamworks, ink brushes a private collection of anime woodblock prints. And finally, the main story is in excellent 3D animation. The tangibility of Lord Shen is frightening.
Jack Black is a lot more sensitive and clever than I thought. Perhaps he is still channeling Po, and I don’t really know him as a person, but I was happy to hear him talk about the movie. Kids ask the darnedest things. Jack Black was inspired by this film’s message of inner peace, which helps you live in the present and overcome all obstacles. He really brought the character to life, and Angelina Jolie was good as well. Gary Oldman was the perfect villain, with the perfect English accent.
The action scenes were terribly exciting. You are carried through the fights by dynamic compositions and power lines. Ninja’s work together and the physical consequences are dire. No one fights without good reason. And there are always power hugs.
All in all I would say it definitely a must see film this year.