Why I Didn’t Review ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′

         
 

29 May 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

I saw “Kung Fu Panda” and felt that I liked, hmm how do I put this, maybe some of it but at the same time did not have one of my better theater experiences. I was travelling in India (you know, when I’m not reviewing movies it’s a benefit to see the world) when Paramount Pictures held a press screening for the media. When I came back I made a point to see it on opening night. My local movie theater in Century City, CA had an evening show sell out, so I re-directed with my woman (she loveees the first “Kung Fu Panda) to Santa Monica for a late show. There were actually quite a few families with kids, but no tall heads to block my view of the screen.

The ceiling lights were at a low but curiously radiating light and the projection was high off the screen, sometimes cutting off Jack Black, err, Po Panda’s head at the top of the screen. I figured the projectionist would correct the problem in any minute, and he or an usher would correct the fluorescent lights. Previews are one thing but the feature presentation is another. But the movie started, and continued playing, without the slightest tweak. I suppose I could have gotten up and informed the theater manager but I guess I was being lazy. I also don’t like missing a single frame of any movie. I’ll cross my legs just to keep myself from going to the bathroom.

The drawing design was more complex in the sequel with an iridescent China colored with speckled reddish skies and leafy multi-season pastures. The jokes of Po’s weight problem and food gorging connected with me, so did the developed storyline about Po’s improbable papa Goose. Po had a problem winning the respect of his comrades in the original but this time was developing a kinky repartee with Tigress (voiced silkily by Angelina Jolie). Maybe not “kinky,” that’s just where my head is. But mainly my stirred feelings involved Po’s barging interest with master Shifu’s (Dustin Hoffman) quest for inner peace practiced in the kind of high altitude mountains reserved for Buddhists. Shifu was my favorite character in the original thanks to Hoffman’s sharp-witted, brusque delivery.

But I became less enthralled by the second half when Po has to infiltrate the Lord Shen’s (Gary Oldman) kingdom to squelch evil fireworks weaponry that could empower a tyrannical regime. Po gets into a lot of Kung Fu clashes with Shen’s minions, and the wit during this onslaught became scarce. It had a lot of nice-going-you-kicked-his-ass moments. And I was sorely missing my favorite character who is back home in the Valley of Peace away from the action. I was craving doses of Hoffman drollery and was feeling empty-handed.

Possibly I would have enjoyed the action scenes had I seen a decent projection of the movie (it also didn’t have a crisp quality, like the focus knob was a little bit on fuzzy). I felt gypped, but perhaps it was the fault of a lousy AMC theater (they’re usually dependable, at least elsewhere) and not the movie. I had my share of laughs during the original and was in a state of uproarious laughter during the master and protégé chopstick fencing for dim sum. But many of those aforementioned scenes, quite several of them, were big laughs. I can’t say that I didn’t have enough of those rib ticklers.

Viewing the movie doesn’t feel complete to me. I cannot assign a grade to it. I suppose I need to see the movie again when I have an open schedule that doesn’t take me away from other current movies which probably means future DVD review. I am going to take a guess and say that I’ll probably like the movie better the second time – and here’s the clincher – maybe I’ll catch more ingenuity and delights in the second half that I could have missed. But what won’t change is my distinct craving for more Shifu.

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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