"Kung Fu Panda 2"

Kung Fu Panda 2 might be the first summer "kids" movie that adults will appreciate as well. Better yet, you don't have to have seen the first one, because this sequel stands on its own, although it's a little helpful to have seen the first; I saw it for the first time the day before Panda 2. Most of the same characters are back and if you are a fan of the first Kung Fu Panda, you will definitely like this one.

Since the original Kung Fu Panda movie, Po (voiced by Jack Black, "Gulliver's Travels") has been continuing his training as the Dragon Warrior under the tutelage of Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman, "Little Fockers"). Now, however, he and The Five must fight to save China from the evil Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman, "Red Riding Hood"), who has wanted to control China ever since his father was in control many years ago. Shen has a new weapon that might defeat even kung fu, and Po and The Five (warriors) must find a way to stop him before he ruins China and kills everyone so that he can rule.

The Five were voiced by Angelina Jolie (Tigress; "The Tourist"), Seth Rogen (Mantis; "The Green Hornet"), Jackie Chan (Monkey; "The Karate Kid"), David Cross (Crane; TV's "Running Wilde"), and Lucy Liu (Viper; "Detachment"), who all return from the first movie. Po's father, a goose, was voiced by James Hong ("The Day The Earth Stood Still"). I had wondered in the first movie why his father was a goose (he was obviously adopted, but there had to be more to the story) and this "backstory" is finally revealed in Panda 2. The Five really could have been voiced by anyone, as Po is the star of the film, but it was nice to see a cast of A-listers; Jolie's name in particular should bring some extra attention to the movie, not that it will need it.

Yes, see this film, and see it in 3D. There are a ton of action scenes in the movie, and stuff is flying everywhere; I even found myself ducking a few times! The 3D effects are among the best I've seen lately, especially in an animated movie, and the story is compelling and interesting. In addition, the movie sets itself up for a third installment, which I will definitely see when it hits theaters, as the first two were so great.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is out in theaters today, May 26th.

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