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Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Jennifer Yuh).
Watched January 26, 2013.

 

I am a sucker for Pixar, but especially for Kung Fu Panda.  The main character Po reminds me so much of my brother-in-law that he is perhaps the best character ever.  That being said, we all know that sequels, especially of late, are generally prime examples of trying too hard to better one’s self.  The simplicity and wit of the first is lost or overextended and the character arcs take on more and more drastic turns.  The first time I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 when it came out, I was severely under-whelmed.  This time, thankfully, my expectations were lower and thus I enjoyed it much more.

 

Once again we travel to China to see its beauty and its tradition in almost exaggerated ways, thanks in part to Hans Zimmer‘s compositions that play tribute to past kung fu films.  We get to see some of our favourite characters again and watch them, in all their amazingly animated glory, perform incredible feats and fight more beautifully than we can imagine.  We see the characters interact again, and more importantly, we get to learn more about them.

 

The fact that we maintained the old cast from part one and then gathered many more in part two makes the plot a little heavy to begin with.  Po (voiced by Jack Black) and the Fabulous Five are clearly great friends at this point.  Po is having the time of his life being The Dragon Warrior and always seems to pair up with Tigress (Angelina Jolie) to successfully bring down their foe.  Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) continues to guide Po’s training and in this film encourages him to find his inner peace.  It is only then that he can defeat the new villain.

 

Shen (Gary Oldman) is a particularly troubled Peacock who has committed genocide and stolen the throne.  When the Fabulous Five learn that he has killed a great kung fu master and is using a new weapon to destroy all that they hold dear, they immediately set out to bring him to justice.  Through much revelation, heartache, and unbelievable peace, they will bring Shen down or die trying.

 

The character relationships, for the most part, were a bit too friendly in comparison to the first film, in my opinion.  Po and Tigress are suddenly best friends, for example, which is very far from what they were previously.  Shifu has a very small role but stays true to himself, and the development between Po and his father is very touching.  Po, despite what he discovers about himself and his past, seems to have slipped backward a few notches and the humor the writers give him is much more idiotic and slap stick than it was before.

 

If only for the love of the first film, I would suggest Kung Fu Panda 2 for you.  Its animation is outstanding, its cast is phenomenal, and the kung fu is amazing.  If you have low expectations and just want some fun, this would be a good family movie choice.

Sources: WikiaIMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesJohn Likes Movies

La Luna (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

La Luna (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Short Film–Animated (Enrico Casarosa).
Watched January 4, 2013.

La Luna was an interesting short, but not one of my favorites from Pixar.  Quite the contrary, actually.  There was very little plot or development, very little attachment to the characters, and was more of an exercise in animation than something that should have been up for an Academy Award.

 

Written and directed by Enrico Casarosa, the creator of Up, La Luna is a coming of age story about Bambino, who is being introduced to the family business for the first time.  He is rowed out to sea with his father and grandpa, who anchor themselves to the moon instead of the ocean floor.  They then climb a ladder and Bambino finds himself on the moon’s surface, where it is covered with golden, glowing stars.  His father and grandpa, who seem to always be at odds, teach him that they must sweep, rake, or mop up the stars, depending on their tool of choice.

 

This is essentially the entire plot.  There was zero depth and although the animation was gorgeous and Bambino was cute, there was nothing else to endear me to the story and therefore I am pretty unimpressed with the seven minutes I spent watching it.  The next time I want to watch a short from Pixar, I can guarantee you I will be watching something else.

 

Unless you can find this one for free (I suppose it will accompany Brave, because this is the film it was released with in theaters), I would not suggest searching it out.

 

Sources: Whoa, This Is Heavy!IMDBRotten Tomatoes411maniaPaste MagazineReeling Reviews

A Morning Stroll (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

A Morning Stroll (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
3/5 Stars
Nominated for Short Animated Film (Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe)
Watched September 19, 2012.

 

There is so much to say about this short, and yet I will say very little because so much would be given away!  That’s the trouble with shorts–7 minutes of film doesn’t give a lot of room for mystery in your review.

 

It is the story of a chicken, but is told from three different eras in three different animation styles.  The animation isn’t the best, especially when set next to something done by Pixar, but I enjoyed the change.  It begins in 1959 with black and white silent film style, accompanied by simple stick-figure-like animated characters that are fairly time appropriate.

 

Next is a longer sequence, perhaps emphasizing a move from the simple into the distracted and chaotic 2009.  Here we are introduced to carelessness, pointless video games, cell phone distraction, and lack of respect.

 

The last time we visit is 2059.  If you are wondering how the world will look forty-seven years from now, you will have to see this short, as I’m not going to mention anything except that it holds the best animation of the short.  However, it still falls a little flat and I am left in more appreciation of the classic simplicity of the 1959 animation.

 

There are a lot of laughs and somewhat unexpected turns, complete with a cute, cheesy ending that makes the entire film worth it.  It you can locate this one I definitely suggest you watch it.  I think that any generation will be able to watch it, appreciate it, and connect with it in completely different ways from one another.

 

 

Sources: DC Shorts Film Festival411 ManiaLights Camera JacksonOpinionlessPaste Magazine