The first "Kung Fu Panda" was a big surprise for moviegoers around the world. Critics and audiences, including myself, really enjoyed its enjoyable martial arts story, beautiful animation, and brilliantly developed characters. So when DreamWorks announced a sequel, I actually got very eager to see it. I went into the film very excited and walked out extremely satisfied because "Kung Fu Panda 2" is a very good sequel that steps up everything that made the first film work. It's one of those films that makes the story, characters, and animation better.
The dragon warrior Po (Jack Black) and his fellow kung fu master the Furious Five (respectively played by Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and Jackie Chan) have been protecting the Valley of Peace from enemies for some time now. Little do they know that the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) has returned to Gongmen City in order to test his newest weapon used from modified fireworks to seek revenge after he was banished by his parents for exterminating the panda population in order to avert a prophecy predicted about him. When the kung fu team's teacher Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) receives the news of the return of Shen, he sends the team to the city to defeat the evil Lord and protect the art of kung fu. Along the way, Po is trying to discover his origins along with the mystery with his real parents. After this, we receive some very funny and emotional moments resulting in a pretty fantastic movie.
This is one of those sequels that does the proper approach that a sequel should do which continue the story from the first. The film simply doesn't repeat the first story but rather tell a different story. Speaking of the story in this film, it's pretty fantastic. I loved how this movie is able to balance both the comedic and emotional moments very well without making the film feeling like it had too much or even too little. The film once again dove into the philosophy and art of martial arts like the first film did and also added new elements involving inner peace which I found fascinating. The animation once again is beautiful. Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson knew how to tell its story through its colors very well with the film having a very heavy focus on the color red during evil moments of the film and calming green colors during quieter moments. I also liked that the flashback scenes in the movie were told through 2D animation which is something that I always love to watch. The characters are also fantastic as well. The reason why is because they're properly developed and given more character and don't act like jerks throughout the movie, particularly Po's relationship to the Furious Five. The villain, Lord Shen, is one of the best villains that DreamWorks has ever created. He has a fantastic backstory and a very deviously evil plot, but they also manage to give him some very good comedic moments. As far as flaws, the movie does feel like it did run a little too long and some of the scenes could have been cut a little bit shorter, but that's really about it.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" is a very good sequel that makes everything that worked in the first film better with a very good story, some great animation, and well-developed characters. I wonder where DreamWorks will go from here when they do a sequel because based on the end of the film, this might go somewhere exciting. I surely hope that it does.