Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D - A DreamWorks Masterpiece Blending Modern Comedy With Ancient Culture

Family Movies

Kung Fu Panda 2 Giveway details below review

My Oldest Son & Me at the Mommy Blogger DreamWorks Event
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,
When I was invited as one of about 20 other mommy bloggers to bring my family to screen Kung Fu Panda 2 and spend the day on the lot at DreamWorks in Glendale, California, my kids were ecstatic.  

Having seen and loved the original Kung Fu Panda (2008) which was nominated for both Academy and Golden Globe Awards and grossed $633 million at the box office, they were truly thrilled to have this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the sequel in the world-class screening room on the studio's peaceful green campus where this was made.
Two of the DreamWorks Oscar Awards on Display at the Studio
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

On May 26, the animated comedy in 3D and 3D Digital opens in theaters nationwide.  The feature stars the voices of A-listers Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Victor Garber, Dennis Haysbert, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.  This landmark film is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson who, notably, breaks a glass ceiling for females in Hollywood for her leadership.  It is rated PG for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence by the MPAA. 

As the story unfolds in Kung Fu Panda 2, Po, the lovable rollie-pollie panda voiced by Black, has achieved his life-long dream.  He's The Dragon Warrior and his duty is to protect the inhabitants of the Valley of Peace with the help of his cohorts and and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five.  The fab five, BTW, include the Tigress (Jolie),  Monkey (Chan), Mantis (Rogen), Viper (Liu), and Crane (Cross). 
My Daughters at the DreamWorks On-Campus Theater
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

In short order, conflict arises in the form of a new bad guy in town.  Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by a horrific force of evil, Lord Chen (Oldman) -- a virile, wicked peacock who seeks to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer all of China and destroy kung fu forever.  Stuck in this major predicament, Po realizes that to gain the strength he needs to succeed, he must revisit his upbringing as a child to retrieve the secrets of his mysterious origins and find out the real reason why is father was a goose.
According to DreamWorks production notes from the film provided to the press, "Not only the kung fu got kicked up a notch, but so did the sets.  The whole city, the big vistas, the gorgeous ancient Chinese landscapes and sunsets—and now, ker-ching, they’re in 3D."

Audiences young and old who see this are in for a treat.  That's because -- perhaps without even realizing it -- they'll find themselves learning all about ancient Chinese culture that has been artfully disguised as entertainment for kids.  The painstaking attention to detail in creating intricate interiors of the palace is Architecture 101 while the many different types of weaponry in various fight and battle scenes is a historical overview on the topic.  

In fact, I was fascinated to learn that the creative team actually spent a bit of time in China, visiting the walled city of Pingyao, the Shaolin Monastery, historic Beijing, and Chengu in the southwestern Sichuan Province.  The filmmakers also drew visual inspiration by visiting a panda reserve and some Buddhist and Taoist temples and shrines in the mist-enshrined mountains.

Truly spectacular was the Final Battle at the movie's end.  Along with almost 30,000 wolf bad buys, there were 16 types of Chinese boats with 771 vessels in all.  That's not even to mention all the animation and fabulous musical score that showcase various Asian classical instruments that most of the public might have previously seen only in museums.

Image provided by DreamWorks

In this fast-paced, action packed sequel to Kung Fu Panda (2008), DreamWorks once again out does itself in accomplishing animated feats like never before.  The fireworks (also known to the Chinese as sky flowers) are spectacularly executed.  The water scenes -- from mist, to waterfalls, to rivers and other bodies of water are replete with realism, the viewer is convinced of all its wet and cool properties.

Overall my kids and I largely enjoyed this movie, which was so fast-paced that the time watching it seemed to fly at warp speed.  I would, however, suggest that parents of very young children seriously consider whether or not this is appropriate for their little ones' ears or eyes.  This animated film has some rather violent fight scenes incorporating many types of weapons, some very vicious characters, and scary scenes.  Also, the fireworks did look real and were pretty to look at but might make some of the smaller kids not accustomed to loud noises cry.

View the trailer by visiting DreamWorks official Kung Fu Panda 2 site
Image provided by DreamWorks

Kung Fu Panda 2 Sweepstakes - Ends 6/7/11
One lucky person will win a treasure trove of Kung Fu Panda 2 licensed merchandise. Enter for your chance to win up to 3 times daily HERE

Have you seen Kung Fu Panda 2 yet? If so, what did you think? I encourage you to share your own impressions with this blog's readership.

FTC Disclosure: My family and I attended attended a special event at DreamWorks to screen Kung Fu Panda 2 to facilitate this review. We also received a lovely lunch, behind the scenes tour of the DreamWorks campus and a goodie bag.  However, MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

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