I was kind of sceptical about a sequel to Kung Fu Panda, despite liking the original quite a bit.

And it didn't do much to persuade me in the beginning. It started out feeling quite formulaic (ok, got this scene out of the way, now we need this one, and now this one), but generally improved as it went along. The one thing that didn't really improve was that it felt kind of ... choppy, I guess, where it went very fast for a while, then slowed down, then sped up, and didn't really flow from one sequence to the next.

Having said that, there were some hysterically funny parts of the movie. One in particular had Po and the Furious Five going through a town "disguised" in a chinese dragon costume. They were running into guards, "eating" them, beating them up, and pooping them out the back. My wife was getting a bit annoyed at me for laughing so loudly in that sequence.

Gary Oldman did a very good job (as he generally does) as the villain Shen. Oddly, Jean-Claude van Damme was chosen as a voice for one of the bit characters, although perhaps it isn't so odd that he only had a couple of lines. And speaking of a couple of lines, Jackie Chan had a few more in this one (though probably still less than ten). And Michelle Yeoh had a pretty large part, which she handled as well as you'd expect (although I should point out that a former office mate of mine, who was from Sichuan; his first comment on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was something like, "Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat: their Mandarin is terrible").

One artistic touch that I liked was that there were some flashbacks (probably too many, actually, although that's a realistic complaint, not that they were disruptive of the movie) which were done in a very flat, hand-drawn style. Well, until the last few seconds of the last one which, I now realize, was significant. In any event, it was a bit of a jarring transition from the style of the rest of the movie, and looked particularly odd since we were seeing the movie in 3D. It definitely worked on several levels, though, and I applaud the usage.

My only significant complaint about the movie, other than the choppiness, was that, like I mentioned with Thor, inner peace was literally achieved overnight. As with Thor, that just doesn't make any sense.

And one minor complaint (perhaps carried over from the first; I don't remember) is that Po calls the red panda 'Master Sifu', which is almost as redundant as talking about "The La Brea Tar Pits" (which, I must sadly admit, I still do in my head, since that's what I heard them called for the first 25 or 30 years of my life).

Anyway, overall analysis: pretty good movie, probably not quite as good as the first, and certainly not without flaws. Still, we definitely enjoyed it.

Oh, almost forgot, the final scene was a bit weird; odd transition from the prior scene to that one, mostly. But it promises a sequel.

Oh, yeah. And a couple of trailers we saw. There was a longer trailer to Cars 2 than I had yet seen; it looks more promising. Puss in Boots (yes, the one from Shrek) is also coming; I think it will probably be better than the last two Shrek movies (almost has to be better than the third, at least). Happy Feet 2 is also on the way; another one where I loved the original but am deeply skeptical about a sequel. And Smurfs. Egad. We saw a sign for that on the way in; me: "ugh", my wife: "ooh". Yeah, the trailer did not sell me on it. Not even in 3D.

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