[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=7849&w=o[/img]Title: Kung Fu Panda 2
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh
Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Runtime: 91 min
Release Date: 12/13/2011 (Blu-Ray)
HTS Overall Score:93
Life seems to be perfect in the Valley of Peace, true to its name, peace has reigned since the defeat of Tai Lung at the hands of Po, the dragon warrior. Po and the Furious Five are in the temple training, or rather Po is playing a Chinese version of chubby bunny with bean dumplings while the Five cheer him on. Just as Po reaches the 40th dumpling, Master Shifu summons him. Shifu informs Po that a village has come under attack by wolves, and sends Po with The Five to defend them.
The village is being ransacked for its metal when they arrive, and a battle ensues with the wolves. The villagers are saved, but at the very end when Po has a chance to finish their Captain, he sees a strange logo on the wolves shoulder plate. This causes Po to have a violent flashback to his childhood and get hit in the face, allowing the Captain to escape.
The Five can't understand why Po blanked out, but he pretends he is fine, afraid to admit his lapse. When they return to the village, they are informed that Gongmen City has been attacked by the banished Lord Shen. During the attack Shen killed master Thundering Rhino with a terrible new weapon, which apparently is the antithesis of Kung Fu.
Po and the Five travel to Gongmen City and discover Master Storming Ox and Croc imprisoned, unwilling to fight because Shen will turn his weapon on the city. The Five must embark on a suicide mission to stop Lord Shen, while Po must come to terms with a horrible truth from his past if he is to attain inner peace and save Kung Fu.
While the story of this film is slightly less compelling than that of its predecessor, Kung Fu Panda 2 is a remarkably fun (and funny!) film. Action and combat scenes are brilliantly done and the same humor is present throughout. Both times I have watched this film, the entire audience has been breathless with laughter at least once. The characters are mostly the same from Kung Fu Panda, although a new villain (Lord Shen) is introduced. His part is amusing and well acted by Gary Oldman, and plays well off the supporting characters and Po himself.
A lot of attention is given to Po's past, and these scenes are both meaningful and fill in a lot of missing information about Po himself. The relationship between the Five and Po goes through some significant changes in the film and further reinforces the quality of this cast as they play off one another. This is a great film and well worth a watch.
If any of you recall Kung Fu Panda when it first came to Blu-Ray, it was one of the finest disks available and to this day remains a reference title. Kung Fu Panda 2 follows after its predecessor with reference quality visuals. Colors are vibrant, well saturated and beautifully rendered alongside inky blacks and excellent shadow detail. As this is an animated title, I was eager to see any signs of aliasing, but the transfer is absolutely pristine. Detail is for all intent and purposes, infinite, and it is easily the equal of its predecessor. While much of the film is dark and focuses on night scenes, the visuals are no less spectacular. Shadows suffuse the scenes and layer up layer of detail remains clearly visible. With a high contrast display, this is one of the finest viewing experiences possible. The original may make the better demo disk (color and daylight content), but I have no problems recommending this title on the basis of its PQ alone.
I'm a huge fan of the sweeping, epic oriental scores that accompany Kung Fu Panda films and in this case Hans Zimmer delivers in spades. The score is at times bombastic and dominates the scene and at others is subtle to the point if disappearing - none the less no detail is ever lost. Surround use and activity in this mix is superb with great directionality and spatial detail while low frequency content is authoritative but rarely overbearing. Dialogue is crystal clear and easily intelligible throughout the film. Overall this is a wonderful presentation that deserves high marks for its authenticity.
A solid list of extra content accompanies this disc. Take note that while there are less features overall, they are longer and entirely HD.
- Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the masters – 23 min. (Dolby TrueHD 7.1)
- Animation inspiration – An interactive map
- The animator’s corner – Picture in picture feature.
- Trivia track – In movie feature
- Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness – 23 min.
- Kickin’ it with the cast – 12 minute behind the scenes look
- 3 Deleted Scenes - Introduction by Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson
- Panda stories – 7 minute documentary on panda bears
- Kung Fu Shuffle – Interactive game
- Ni Hao – A feature on Mandarin writing and language.
- Audio Commentary
- Bonus DVD of Kung Fu Panda 2[SD]
- Digital Copy[SD]
Kung Fu Panda 2 may not be quite as compelling as its predecessor in terms of story or plot, but it manages to seem just as heartfelt as Kung Fu Panda. There's plenty of humor to be found in the film, and the ensemble cast are hilarious together. Jack Black is as hilarious as ever and alongside Gary Oldman as Shen there are laughs aplenty for all viewers. Coming to Blu-Ray with outstanding reference quality visuals and sonics, there can be no question that this is a disc worth owning. The pacing may be different, but the ending of the film feels just as triumphant as the first, Awesome!