Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

The hardest reviews to write by far are ones for movies that generate no particular opinion in me of any kind.  I was left so uninspired by "Hanna" recently that even after two hours of work, I was completely unable to write a review longer than "its okay".  It was awhile ago that I realized that I have a much easier time writing negative reviews than positive ones - this is because I'm an evil person who may or may not be able to experience joy.  But writing a review that is neither positive or negative, just "meh".  Now that is a task so difficult as to tear the joy right out of being a film blogger... person.  You got respect real film critics for what they do, because 99% of the movies they see must give them nothing to work with.  So if they sound bitter and sarcastic a lot, its only because you either go negative or you have no review at all.  Of course, that doesn't excuse professional critics for being aggressive and hateful towards movies that really did not deserve the bad reputation, like say... "Battle: Los Angeles" which is a fun movie through every perspective other than the cynical "seen-it" eyes of a middle-aged critic with back issues.

Luckily I can completely pick and choose what films I actually review.  So when "Hanna" turned out to be really forgettable, even in how amongst forgettable movies it was only moderately forgettable, I just didn't write a review.  But I think I'll write a review of "Kung Fu Panda 2" anyway, even though it didn't inspire all that much thought in me.  The first one really wasn't all that impressive either, though far above the standard of normal DreamWorks films.  I mean, the movie was okay, not as great as say, "How to Train Your Dragon".  A pile of kung fu cliches rolled together into a decent enough script that managed to make Jack Black not suck for once.  But it managed to work.  And now there's a sequel, so there you go.  Hollywood never just lets good stories lie, they have to try to double their money.  Then they almost always lose it all - the Sequel Casino is the most rigged game out there.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" is notable to me at least, for being the very first movie I ever took my baby brother to.  He's three-years-old, and somehow or another, has never been to the movies.  Not once.  This was of course a huge embarrassment for me, since I own a largely ignored blog that chiefly does movie reviews.  I mean, I always win games of "Seen It".  I've watched the movie "Secret of Kells", I'm hardcore with my movies.  No brother of mine is not going to see a movie!  And now that that's been fixed, I have a review.

Last time on "Kung Fu Panda" the Panda became the greatest kung fu master in all of DreamWorks' furry animal version of China.  He defeated Tai Lung, saved the day, didn't get the girl, but lived out his nerdy dream of being a kung fu badass.  Well, its the sequel now, so in the interests of money, DreamWorks have summoned Shun, an evil peacock whose fighting style is basically a less fun rip-off of Mousse from "Ranma 1/2".  Shun isn't a kung fu monster like Tai Lung, he's just okay at fighting.  Rather he can build big canons that will blow your face off.  Also Shun is responsible for the genocide of the pandas, meaning that every time Jack Black* tries to fight him, he goes into a psycho freak out about his mother and whatever.  So now Kung Fu Panda has to defeat the bad guy, discover his origins, and... that's really it.  (There might have been a love plot with Panda and the Tiger, but I don't think anybody who made this movie really cared enough to give that depth.)  This takes an hour and a half.

My brother's review of the movie was this:  "It was good."  That's all he had to say on the subject, other than laughing a bit at the rather awesome action scenes.  He had to pee halfway through, nothing of importance was missed.  I now know the feeling of millions of movie-going parents around the world.  Kid's movies are generally annoying chores to deal with, watch-checkers.  If one can make you interested enough so that you aren't bored the entire time, it gets a pass from you.  Let's break this down:  you're watching the kid.  You're bored out of your skull to be in the house all day with him or her.  He needs something to do, you need to get out of there before your brains decide to secede from your body.  You need something that isn't violent or sexual for the kid, because they're too young to know life's best pleasures.  Its either "Kung Fu Panda 2" or fucking "Mr. Popper's Penguins" or God help you... "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer".  "Kung Fu Panda 2" is obviously the one that's going to suck the least.  So there you go.

Really, if it had only been a week later, I would have taken Lil' Bro to see "Cars 2".  "Kung Fu Panda 2" is perhaps the most cynical movie-going experience I've ever had.  It wasn't a movie I was seeing, it was a tactical plan to give Lil' Bro something to do today.  It was short, it was colorful, the animation was pretty enough, and that's that.  Purely manufactured for a strategic baby-sitting/parenting device.  This movie never got anywhere near past that point.  I guess it was a very good Child-Distracting Machine, but still nothing more than that.

One thing I find funny is that no matter how good the 3D animation is in this movie - and it is very good - I can't help but feel that the DreamWorks team wants to do anything other than make another film in the 3D style.  Every chance they get this movie turns into a 2D cartoon:  flasebacks, the opening, the end credits.  The opening employs this great Chinese manuscript kind of style.  "Kung Fu Panda" might actually be something more than a Child-Distracting Machine if they had enough respect for the medium to actually try a new animation style in respect to Chinese culture.  But no, DreamWorks only had the guts to employ this for a few minutes.  "Secret of Kells" made a whole movie this way - why do I love one and am completely indifferent to the other?

Kung Fu Panda is basically stuck in the first movie, even though the plot has moved on.  Kung Fu-wise he seems a lot weaker this time around.  Last movie he was apparently the Dragon Warrior, the greatest martial artist ever.  A force of nature that could take out Superman and Goku at the same time.  Yet in the sequel, Panda can't even beat Angelina Jolie the Tiger.  The new villain is honestly as scary as Mr. Burns, he's evil through and through, but is far too silly to ever actually do harm.  But somehow Kung Fu Panda has so much trouble with him.  Honestly, Jack Black is the worst thing about these movies.  He's too annoying and ridiculous to be a main character, he's still the Load amongst the underdeveloped Fox Force Five characters.  Tigress is still the most competent, Kung Fu Panda comes along only because its his movie.  DreamWorks had no idea how to develop his character beyond "silly well-meaning fatass dork" so there he stays in the sequel.

To conclude this bizarre meandering review:  at times it looked like the heroes were going to do a Kamehameha Wave.  They never did.  If they did, I might actually have something more profound to say here.

* I don't know the Panda's name, other than I think his first name is "Kung Fu" and his last name "Panda".  I'll just call him "Kung Fu Panda" from now on and sound as disinterested and ignorant of this franchise as I actually am.


  1. Congrats on showing your little bro a movie, and Jack Black is a giant, fat, annoying douche.

  2. hey blue any advice for taking care of a irritating 11 year old brother whos been on the internet a long time and well is almost just as perverted as you as crazy as it sounds? he swears lisntens to youtube personalitys but has not hit puberty and we both enjoy your blogs and one of the few thing we can agree on.
    and personally id like a good video game movie any ideas? beside assassins creed linage i already saw it.

  3. @Anon: Um... err... Wow. Don't let him watch any of that Asian porn, of course. My child watching experience only extends as far as 7-year-olds. When I was eleven I usually was either in school or summer camp, so I didn't have much time at home to do nothing.

    As for video game movies, the only one that was decent was Resident Evil 1. I'm not expert on that series, but I remember the second one being bad, and the last few being at least watchable. Advent Children Complete is good, but only for FFVII players. Tomb Raider was kinda okay, I think. If neither of you have ever seen an action movie before, Prince of Persia will do thejob.

    The rest should be avoided at all costs.

    (Sidenote: has he ever seen the Matrix? That was my favorite movie when I was eleven.)

  4. thank you no he dosent watch porn he just knows ok


  5. @BlueHighwind You obviously haven't seen the fan-movie "Hero of Time." Of course, it's difficult to find now, but I saw it online once after watching the entirety of There Will Be Brawl in a single night.

    Needless to say, now Kirby haunts my thoughts. That face... *shiver*

  6. of dear god kirby what did they do and ness and lucas why. lol playing the snes and n64 since 6
    and im 14 it really is fond to look back. but somehow assassins creed linage is pretty good for a low budget film maybe because it follows the fucking plot and is canon. i dare any one here to name a video game movie that follow the plot of the games and is canon.

  7. I don't know how I ended up here, but I laughed out loud at the last two paragraphs. Even if I thought the movie was 'okay'. Hats off to you, sir. o/