Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
animals in the Bible
|Featuring:||Angelina Jolie … Tigress (voice)
Gary Oldman … Lord Shen (voice)
Seth Rogen … Mantis (voice)
Jack Black … Po (voice)
Jackie Chan … Monkey (voice)
Jean-Claude Van Damme … Master Croc (voice)
Dustin Hoffman … Shifu (voice)
Jonathan Aibel … co-producer
Glenn Berger … co-producer
Melissa Cobb … producer
Guillermo del Toro … executive producer
|Distributor:||Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Animation|
“Prepare for the return of awesomeness.”
When the first KUNG FU PANDA came out, audiences fell in love with the slothful panda that became the Dragon Warrior of Kung Fu. The movie even inspired a live action Bollywood film called “Chandni Chowk to China” and, of course, a sequel. Most sequels are, by their very nature, inferior to the originals. They either try to repeat the formula used previously or divert too much from what made the original special. In the case of KUNG FU PANDA 2, the film does a little of both, but not too much of either.
Po, our panda hero, is now the Dragon Warrior. He and his cohorts protect the village from dangers, but when Po learns he is a adopted (his “father” is a goose, remember), he begins to wander why his real parents abandoned him. He starts looking to the past to find himself. In the meantime, an evil crane has invented a doomsday weapon that can defeat Kung Fu and will allow him to conquer all China. Po must defeat this warrior, while revealing his past.
Ascetically, KUNG FU PANDA 2 generally works pretty well. There are times that it seems repetitive and overly action oriented, but those times are not often. From a Christian parents perspective, however, there are definitely some things to beware of. First, although cartoon violence, there is ample of it. Explosions and deaths are common in the film. The violence is not more than one would see in the old Warner Brothers Cartoons, but there is an ample supply that might make parents leery of bringing in very small children. In some respects, KUNG FU PANDA 2 is a war movie, so young kids should be cautioned.
As one would expect, in this day and age, there is some potty humor. The most obvious is when the heroes are disguised in a paper dragon. The dragon appears to eat one of the villains, and then eventually comes out the rear end of the dragon, as if the dragon had just defecated. This is the worst scene, however, and there is not as much potty humor as I anticipated (for what that is worth).
The greater problem is its eastern mysticism, integrated with a good moral theme. The ying-yang symbol is featured prominently and repeatedly throughout the film. Since the film takes place in China, this is to be expected, to some extent, but the philosophy behind the ying-yang is much more than merely good vs. evil or inner conflict. Within the story, Po must learn “inner peace” and he eventually learns that peace by letting go of the past. This seems a very good and noble principle, but the fundamental flaw is that eastern religion sees inner peace as coming from within, whereas Jesus saw true peace as only being achieved through Christ and a relationship with the Father in Heaven. On the other hand, letting go of the past is a solid moral theme. Too many psychiatrists believe that we must explore the past to find solutions to our problems, but Jesus taught that we are to forgive and forget (not remember). In this respect, KUNG FU PANDA 2 is right on target. Letting go of bad memories from the past is essential, if we are to be at peace with God, but true peace must come through Jesus and not by looking inward. Looking inward is selfish. Looking to God is the only way to restore ourselves to our Creator and find our true purpose in life.
Overall, KUNG FU PANDA 2 makes a fine sequel. It is entertaining, if a little overly action-oriented. One might call it a Warner Brothers’ cartoon on steroids. Of course, as a fan of the old WB cartoons, I have no problem with this, per se, and I found the sequel to be better than I was expecting. It is a good follow up to a great film, and audiences should expect more to follow.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.