Kung Fu Panda 2 lost out to Rango (***) for the 84th Academy Awards Award for Best Animated Feature. Really? Rango was mostly an exercise in weirdness, but never did I identify with the main character like I do Po. Po is an underdog who doubts himself, but once again makes good as a Kung Fu master.
I could tell you the plot, but what is the point? An evil lord rises up to conquer all of China and has to be defeated. What makes the all too familiar story interesting is how well it is executed, the humor, and the quality of the characters. Here Po struggles to understand where he came from and who he is. It is revealed that Mr. Ping is not Po's real father, but that is not even a little bit of a surprise given that he is a Chinese Goose.
The computer animation is so beautiful and so detailed, it had me wondering how they do it and how much it cost to produce a movie like this? ($150 million.) Kung Fu Panda 2 looks better than the first film and the first film looked pretty good. The beauty of the animated scenery becomes like another character because we are entertained just by looking at it.
The first film had me wondering why the movie needed to be animated and why did all the characters have to be animals? It seemed a little odd to see all these different animals interacting like human characters. The original story could have used live human actors with Jack Black playing the lead, but in this animated universe the characters do extreme martial arts that would seem impossible and silly if humans did them. The two movies have a certain amount of charm showing that many different types of animals can interact and be friends. It also made me wonder what all these animals eat? They all seem to be vegetarians, which is convenient given that the animals aren't eating each other.
Check out the trailer here.