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Blu-ray Review Kung Fu Panda 2 Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Neil Middlemiss

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Kung Fu Panda 2 is great fun. Jack Black once again voices the clumsy, tubby panda named Po whose dream of becoming a Kung Fu Dragon Warrior came true. Black continues to imbue Po with a giddy excitement and humble silliness that gives his character likeable, endearing qualities. Energetic Kung Fu sequences burst into life with frequency, moving the story along nicely and keeping it all a tightly packed, fun family time.

 




Kung Fu Panda 2

Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy


Studio: Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Animation
Year: 2011
US Rating: PG for Sequences of Martial Arts Action and Mild Violence
Film Length: 90 Minutes
Video: AVC MPEG-4 1080P High Definition 16X9

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese


Release Date: December 13, 2011

Review Date: December 21, 2011


“Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn't make you who you are. it is the rest of your story, who you choose to be... So, who are you, Panda?”


The Film

4/ 5


Po, the now much lauded and revered Dragon Warrior, must travel with his fellow warriors to face Lord Shen of Gongman City who threatens peace across the land with his new powerful weapon; a weapon that threatens the very practice of Kung Fu. Shen has mastered the power of explosives and seeks to bring China to its knees in submission. Shen’s only fear is his portended undoing by the hands of a hero in black and white. He ordered the destruction of all pandas, but the newborn Po survived and now – though struggling with flashbacks to his earliest memories of his parents – Po is determined to partner with his fellow warriors to bring peace to China


Kung Fu Panda was quite the surprise when DreamWorks and Paramount released it to welcoming audiences in 2008. The abundant personality of Jack Black voicing a clumsy but well-meaning Panda who ached to become a Kung Fu expert was a winning formula, helping the film garner an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film. The familiar theme of ‘overcoming the odds to make a dream come true’ was given a fresh, funny spin; a plump Panda, rotund and careless and trying to grasp the grace of martial arts, was sweet and light. Po’s lack of grace is still the primary source of comedy in this sequel, and his innocent and tenuous grasp of the Kung Fu disciplines gives legions of Kung Fu Kid wannabes an easy way in. The mix of characters and the actors who voice them continue to elevate the proceedings and keep us invested in their travails.  


Kung Fu Panda 2’s direction by Jennifer Yuh is exemplary, giving the film a vibrant visual flair, filling the screen with moments that are alive with innovation and energy – and the entire affair is brisk, light and warm as a result. The plots more heartfelt reflective moments (which themselves are given a graceful showing and provide genuine feeling), are especially well handled.


Kung Fu Panda 2 is fast-paced, action-filled, heart-warming family entertainment; a dizzying and dazzling display of exquisite animation technique and bold bright colors. Jack Black carries the lion’s share of the film’s focus and addles seamlessly between the exuberant and the emotionally vulnerable. The main complaint however remains in the relegation of the film’s supporting players. Angelina Jolies Tigress, Seth Rogen’s Mantis, David Cross’ Crane, Lucy Liu’s Viper and Jackie Chan’s Monkey are given far less dialogue compared to the first film (which itself was somewhat limited). Only Jolie’s Tigress and Dustin Hoffman’s surprisingly authentic Shifu – their master - are meaningfully connected to the larger story.


Perhaps a minor complaint given the highly entertaining film but one I hope to see rectified when the inevitable third outing arrives at the multiplexes.


As for the rest of the cast, James Hong returns as Po’s adopted father Mr. Ping and added to the mix this time around are Michelle Yeoh as Soothsayer, Gary Oldman as the conniving Shen, Danny McBride as Wolf Boss, Victor Garber as Master Rhino, Dennis Haysbert as Master Ox and Jean-Claude Van Damme as Master Croc. A fine cast but, given the relatively short running time (around 85 minutes without credits) and heavy focus on Po and his backstory, they too come away seeming underused.



The Video

5/5


Kung Fu Panda 2 arrives on Blu-ray with a stunning high definition presentation. Framed at 2.35:1, the level of unfettered detail is a marvel. Colors are extremely vivid and alive, and even scenes which are heavily doused in reds (for dramatic effect), there remains a striking distinction of objects and shades. Animated films tend to represent the finest of high definitions offerings and Kung Fu Panda 2 is no exception. This is a delight to watch – particularly on the larger of my displays.


Sadly, a 3D version of the film – which was released in theaters – is only currently available as a Best Buy exclusive. 3D Exclusives tend to keep the prices higher whereas openly available 3D product, such as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides can already be purchased for $8-10 less than its release date asking price.  Contest entry code: Panda



The Sound

5/5


The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio is a brilliant aural experience. The plot element of the discovery of gunpowder (and its potent destructive force) gives rise to a full-bodies deep bass experience. This coupled with the active sound design during fight sequences – as smacks, clangs, blocks and smashes are dispersed generously throughout the surround and front channels. The center channels houses the bulk of the dialogue and are issue free. Excellent audio!


Check out the clip below for more information about how the 7.1 audio mix was used in this release:




The Extras

4 / 5


This release features a solid selection of special features for the film fans and children alike, although it favors children.


Disc 1 (Blu-ray):

Kung Fu Panda 2


Kung Fu Panda:  Secrets of the Masters


Animation Inspiration—Follow Po and the Furious Five on their journey throughout China!  See footage of real locations that served as inspiration for the film and learn fun, kid-friendly facts about China. [Blu-ray exclusive]


The Animators’ Corner—Features interviews with creators, animators, cast and crew, along with storyboards, music and commentary. [Blu-ray exclusive]


Trivia Track—Pop up trivia, Po style. [Blu-ray exclusive]


Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: See the debut of an episode of Nickelodeon’s brand new television series.


Kickin’ It with the Cast: Meet the new faces who have joined Po’s journey including 
Gary Oldman, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber and Michelle Yeoh and catch up with the returning cast.


Deleted Scenes: Three deleted scenes introduced by the director


Panda Stories: A look at the animals that inspired Kung Fu Panda and footage of Jack Black’s visit to the Atlanta Zoo to meet Po’s real-life namesake


Kung Fu Shuffle: Master Shifu teaches the best way to find a hidden radish in an update of the classic shell game


Ni Hao: Learn Chinese!  Choose from more than 50 Kung Fu Panda-inspired words and learn how to say and draw the symbol in Chinese


Filmmakers’ Commentary: Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, producer Melissa Cobb, production designer Raymond Zibach and supervising animator, kung fu choreographer and story artist Rodolphe Guenoden discuss the making of the film.


World of DreamWorks Animation


Previews


Sneak Peek: A first look at DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular.



Disc 2 (DVD):

Kung Fu Panda 2


Digital Copy


Final Thoughts


Kung Fu Panda 2 is a fun, family film. American audiences failed to embrace this sequel as the studio had anticipated, but a strong international showing swelled the global gross to well over $600 million


Overall (Not an average)

4/5


Neil Middlemiss

Kernersville, NC

 

Adam Gregorich

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Thanks Neil. I admit I sprung for the 3D version and will be watching it with the kids over the holiday. Thanks for the review.
 

Adam Gregorich

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We have two copies of the Blu-ray to give away thanks to Dolby.


To enter sent an email with the contest entry code (found somewhere in Neil's review above) on the subject line to contest 'at' hometheaterforum.com. Please include your HTF user name, name and shipping address in the body of the message.


Rules: You must be over 18, have a US or Canadian shipping address and be a HTF member in good standing. Winner will be drawn at random on Monday 12/26.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Sorry David, running a few days behind. Our random winners are: Elizabeth S and Ed Moxley. Thanks to everyone who entered!
 

Todd Erwin

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Got this disc for Christmas. Love the film and its presentation on Blu-ray, but the TV series is a major letdown. The animation on the series is completely unwatchable, as if the animators forgot to complete the rendering process.
 

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