Kung Fu Panda 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, the visuals looked great.
Sharpness appeared strong. Overall delineation came across as tight and well-defined, without a hint of softness. 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 terrific. At all times, they remained peppy and bold. Blacks seemed dark and dense, while low-light shots offered nice smoothness. This was a top-notch presentation.
I also felt pleased with the movie’s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 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.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Both audio and visuals showed the usual improvements, as the BD seemed clearer, more vivid and more dynamic than the DVD. I liked the DVD but thought the BD topped it.
The Blu-ray includes the DVD’s extras as well as others, and it 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.
A nature featurette appears under Panda Stories. In this seven-minute, 44-second piece, we get notes from Cobb, Nelson, Zibach, Black, Zoo Atlanta deputy director Dwight Lawson, Zoo Atlanta Curator of Mammals Dr. Rebecca Snyder, Zoo Atlanta panda keeper Kate Roca, and Zoo Atlanta Director of Veterinary Services Dr. Hayley Murphy. We get notes about pandas and movie research. We don’t learn much, but the pandas are cute.
Two games appear under Kung Fu Shuffle: “Barrels of Bunnies” and “Baby Po’s Great Crate Challenge”. “Bunnies” delivers an animated variation on Three Card Monty with rabbits, while “Crate” does the same but with pandas. Both are mild fun.
Under Ni Hao, we find a tutorial. This teaches us how to write and say 67 words/phrases in Mandarin. Wit won’t make you fluent, but it delivers a nice little slice.
Three “Blu-Ray Exclusives” appear. opens with a 31-second intro from Nelson before it launches into eight short clips. These run a total of 11 minutes, four seconds and teach us about the inspirations for various film locations. We get a decent glimpse of these production areas.
A staple of DreamWorks Blu-rays, the Animators’ Corner mixes components. We see production art, storyboards, and interviews witn Cobb, Zibach, Nelson, Guenoden, McBride, Black, head of story Phil Craven and unnamed others. The “Corner” discusses story/characters, animation and visual choices, research and other production elements.
Parts of the “Corner” simply directly repeat the commentary, which creates some frustration – I’d prefer it to offer 100 percent “new content”. Still, it adds a mix of fresh material, so it’s worth a look – especially if you decide to skip the commentary.
The Blu-ray also includes a Trivia Track. It tells us about characters and visual design, cast and filmmakers, background, and scene specifics. We also get goofy elements like the “Inner Peace Counter” – it keeps track of how many times characters use that phrase.
Even after all the other components, the “Trivia Track” adds a lot of good information. It mixes quirky tidbits like the counters and true trivia such as the number of stairs in a building with strong movie-related information. These elements meld together to give us a fun and useful compilation of facts.
From 2011, an animated short called Secrets of the Masters runs 23 minutes and 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 the earlier Secrets of the Furious Five, Masters works fairly well. It follows the same cel 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.
Another animated adventure, Legends of Awesomeness lasts 23 minutes, 50 seconds. It offers an episode from a Panda animated series that aired on Nickelodeon. Called “Has Been Hero”, this program offers some amusement, though it’s not as good as the Secrets shorts. A couple of original actors return, but – as expected – new actors take over for most of the roles.
Under The World of DreamWorks Animation, we find various promotional elements related to Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and Megamind. Mostly we get music videos, but a few trailers appear as well.
The disc opens with ads for DreamWorks Dragons and Puss In Boots. Sneak Peek adds a promo for the Dragons “arena spectacular”.
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 Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio as well as a fairly useful set of supplements. Panda 2 turns into a relative winner.
To rate this film visit the DVD Review of KUNG FU PANDA 2