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DREAMWORKS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Cast:
Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Michael Clarke Duncan
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger

Synopsis:
Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

Box Office:
Budget
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$47,835,000 on 3,925 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$165,249,063.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 1/5/2016

Bonus:
DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Producer Melissa Cobb, Production Designer Raymond Zibach and Supervising Animator Rodolphe Guenoden
• “Kickin’ It With the Cast” Featurette
• Three Deleted Scenes
• “The World of DreamWorks Animation”
DVD Two:
DVD Two:
• Three Animated Adventures
Kung Fu Panda 3 Sneak Peek
• Two Mash-Ups
• Music Video


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Kung Fu Panda 2: Ultimate Edition of Awesomeness (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 21, 2016)

An expansion of the original 2008 film, 2011’s Kung Fu Panda 2 reintroduces us to Po the warrior panda (voiced by Jack Black) – after a prologue. That sequence tells us that a peacock named Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) is part of a clan that rules Gongmen City.

When a prophecy states that “a warrior of black and white” with topple him, Shen uses wolves to slaughter the panda population. Horrified, his parents banish him, though an unrepentant Shen declares that he’ll get his revenge.

And in the movie’s “present day”, Shen moves to achieve that. In the meantime, Po enjoys his newfound status as warrior and protector, but he encounters a few challenges related to both his past and his present. Inevitably, this leads us toward a showdown among Shen, Po and our hero’s compatriots.

Because I see so many movies, I don’t always remember a lot about all of them. However, I recall what I did/didn’t see – it’s not like I totally forget that I ever viewed something.

Until now, that is. I’m pretty sure I attended Panda 2 back in 2011, but I can’t take that to the bank. Going into this DVD screening, I remembered virtually nothing about it, and my recollections are so vague that I’m not positive I did see it.

“Inability to recall I saw a movie” is what we call a bad sign for that film. However, in this case, it turned out not to be such a terrible omen. While Panda 2 doesn’t become a great animated adventure, it entertains and surpasses its predecessor.

Granted, I don’t regard that as a great feat, for I didn’t think much of the first Panda. It offered moderate amusement but no more than that – while it kept me with it for 90 minutes, it lacked much that made it great.

While I’m not sure I can say Panda 2 strikes me as especially memorable, it does feel more self-confident. With Po’s “origin story” out of the way, Panda 2 can dig deeper into characters and give us a better storyline. The tale of Lord Shen doesn’t seem special, but it offers decent backbone, and it allows for a Moses-like story connected to Po.

While Shen himself doesn’t offer a great character, Oldman’s performance brings him to life. Oldman seems to enjoy his opportunity to camp it up as the cartoon villain, and he pulls off the part well. He handles the comedy with aplomb but also gives the role menace – no mean feat for such an unintimidating animal as a peacock.

Panda 2 also benefits from a looser sense of comedy. It leaves behind most of the original film’s cheap gags and abounds with little asides that delight. Panda 2 gives us broad enough humor for the kids, but it throws in lots of small tidbits that make it more enjoyable for adults.

How can I dislike a film in which the hero suffers from a nightmare in which his parents replace him with a warrior radish? I can’t. Kung Fu Panda 2 never becomes a great animated adventure, but it boasts more than enough comedy and action to entertain.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Kung Fu Panda 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For a standard-def DVD, Panda 2 looked solid.

Sharpness appeared strong. The format meant a bit of softness, but those instances remained minor – and inevitable. Overall delineation came across as pretty tight and well-defined. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also didn’t mar the image.

Panda 2 went with a fairly warm palette, and the hues looked more than adequate. They lacked the richness I’d find on a Blu-ray, but they remained fairly peppy and bold. Blacks seemed dark and dense, while low-light shots offered nice smoothness. This was a nice presentation.

I also felt pleased with the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, especially during its action scenes. Those used all five channels in an involving way, as they created a good sense of the fights. General ambience seemed fine as well, and the mix provided a fine soundscape.

Audio quality also worked fine. Music was fairly full, while effects showed good accuracy. Speech seemed concise and distinctive. All in all, the mix worked well.

Called the “Ultimate Edition of Awesomeness”, this two-DVD set opens with an audio commentary from director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, producer Melissa Cobb, production designer Raymond Zibach and supervising animator Rodolphe Guenoden. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, animation and visual design, music, cast and performances, and connected domains.

Panda 2 comes with a generally good commentary. The track never becomes particularly fascinating, but it also never drags too much. This means we get a fairly informative and interesting examination of the film.

A featurette called Kickin’ It With the Cast lasts 12 minutes, 42 seconds. It offers notes from Cobb, Nelson, and actors Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, James Hong, Gary Oldman, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Danny McBride. As expected, “Cast” looks at the characters, actors and performances. The tone remains fluffy, but we get some decent thoughts, and I like the glimpses of the actors at work.

Three Deleted Scenes follow. We get “Fight Club – Bartender Scene (Test)” (1:26), “Po Chasing the Crow (Test)” (1:16) and “Po in Gongmen City (Test)” (1:39). All of the sequences provide some entertainment, but I can’t say any of them offer special material.

All the scenes come with intros from Nelson. She gives us basic thoughts about what we’ll see but doesn’t tell us much.

Under The World of DreamWorks Animation, we find various promotional elements related to Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, The Croods, Turbo and Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Mostly we get music videos, but a few trailers appear as well.

On DVD Two, the main attraction comes from three “animated adventures”. Called The Secrets Adventures, we find “Secrets of the Scroll” (23:13), “Secrets of the Masters” (22:58) and “Secrets of the Furious Five” (24:32). “Five” and “Masters” earned prior DVD release, but I think this marks the DVD debut of “Scroll”.

In “Five”, Po teaches a kung fu class made up of young bunnies. They just want to learn how to kick butt, but he tells them they need to learn qualities such as patience and confidence. Po illuminates them via anecdotes about all the members of the Furious Five.

“Five” loses a few points because many of the original actors fail to reappear. Jack Black returns as Po, and we also find Dustin Hoffman, David Cross and Randall Duk Kim in their movie roles. Of the main cast, this means we lose Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan and Seth Rogen.

I suppose the film gets away with the absence of Jolie, Chan and Liu since it includes “young” versions of their characters. I think the original actors still could’ve done those parts, but the absence of Rogen seems more problematic.

Cast issues aside, does “Five” entertain? Yeah, it provides a decent diversion. For the shots of Po in the current time, “Five” goes with the same 3D animation in the film, while the flashback anecdotes offer work with the same cel appearance found in the feature film’s prologue. This is a good technique to give the tale a distinctive appearance.

As for the stories themselves, them work fairly well. They’re pretty basic lessons for kids, but they get creative twists much of the time, and they come with some funny bits. “Five” doesn’t dazzle, but it entertains.

From 2011, “Masters” looks at how Ox (Dennis Haysbert), Croc (Tony Leondis) and Rhino (Paul Scheer) formed a team in earlier days. They unite to battle the sinister Wu sisters (Sumalee Montano). Though they initially do so strictly for monetary gain, the heroes eventually develop more altruistic motives.

Like “Five”, “Masters” works fairly well. It follows the same animation structure of “Five” and gives us a relatively fun tale.

“Masters” also brings back more of the original actors, as “Five” absentees Jolie and Rogen appear here. “Five” is probably the more entertaining of these two, but “Masters” gives us a fun piece.

A new feature, “Scroll” tells us how the Furious Five came together. It also shows how Po became obsessed with kung fu.

Once again, it uses the same animation structure of the others: 3D for the brackets, 2D for the main material. That allows it to fit the “Secrets” series. Most of the original actors show up for “Scroll”, though Jolie and Chan go MIA again.

A “prequel” like “Scroll” probably should’ve been the first “Secrets” video; heck, the debut feature implies that it’ll tell the tale found here. Also, the absence of Jolie becomes a bigger drag than usual since Tigress plays such a large role.

Despite that, I think “Scroll” finishes the “Secrets Trilogy” in a satisfying manner. Actually, it may be the most enjoyable of the three, as it gives us a fun “origin story”.

A sneak peek for Kung Fu Panda 3 lasts two minutes, 56 seconds. After an intro from Jack Black, we see a short snippet from Panda 3. That means we don’t learn anything in the “behind the scenes” realm.

Next we get two Mash-Ups. We find “Mash-Up of Awesomeness: Slo-Mo” (3:05) and “Mash-Up of Blunders” (2:52). The first collects a bunch of movie slow-motion scenes into one reel, while the second shows a bunch of Po’s goofs. Both offer mild amusement at best – honestly, they seem fairly pointless.

Finally, the disc includes a music video. Called “Martial Arts of Awesomeness”, this runs two minutes, 39 seconds and shows fight snippets matched to Carl Douglas’s 1974 hit “Kung Fu Fighting”. Luke the mash-ups, it lacks much purpose.

With Kung Fu Panda 2, we find a film that improves on its predecessor. Funnier, smarter and more engaging, the sequel works pretty well. The DVD provides very good picture and audio as well as a fairly interesting collection of supplements. Panda 2 turns into a relative winner.

Note that the “Ultimate Edition of Awesomeness” releases for both Panda and Panda 2 offer identical Disc Twos. This means completists only need one of the two sets to get the bonus features exclusive to the 2016 DVDs.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main