Making the Grades
There’s a story buried in every childhood, but in the case of Po (voice of Jack Black), a panda with a goose for father, there has always been a suspicion that some details of his parentage were not uncovered in the first Kung Fu Panda movie.
When word comes of an enemy attacking a town on the fringes of the Valley of Peace, the bulbous bear and his partners, The Furious Five, race to the rescue. While downing their foes, Po is confronted by the sign of their villainous leader, Lord Shen (voice of Gary Oldman), a peacock with bold designs on his feathers. The sight of it causes Po to lose his nerve and he is nearly decimated. Later questioned by his friends Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane (voices of Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross), Po cant seem to find a way to explain why he was suddenly blinded by scattered images from his early years.
Desperate to find answers, he seeks information from his loving father Mr. Ping (voice of James Hong), a man who has never faltered in his care for, or pride in, his son. Reluctantly the noodle making bird reveals a startling secret: Po is adopted.
While the news is hardly surprising, Po is still shocked. Yet he knows he must somehow come to terms with his past if he hopes to defeat Lord Shen in the future. Considering the proud peacock plots to not only destroy their peaceful existence but to also rule all of China, the giant panda has great motivation. So he embarks on a journey of self-discovery while at the same time hoping to defend his land from Lord Shen and his ominous new weapon.
Of course this animation sports lots of violence that may be frightening for young children. This is especially true of a sequence depicting genocide where it is implied that parents and babies are being killed (none of this is shown onscreen) and families separated. Many other scenes feature martial arts battles with fantastical movements and gravity defying stunts. As well, a large cannon emerges, which causes damage, death and injury of background characters. Thankfully, other content areas are free of issues.
With a bit less Kung-foolery than the previous outing, there are many moments of humor and fun in this sequel. The main story delivers a powerful message, summed up by the wise Master Shifu (voice of Dustin Hoffman) who advises Po, "Your story may not have a happy start, but it’s who you choose to be that matters." The plot is simple enough for young viewers to relate to, while still providing a complexity that makes Kung Fu Panda 2 a movie sure to fight its way to the top of this genre.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Kung Fu Panda 2.
Advancements in military weapons play a major role in this film. If you would like to learn more about Chinese inventions in this area, check this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_of_the_Song_Dynasty#Gunpowder_warfare
A character in this film punches the trunk of an ironwood tree to develop physical strength. Ironwood is known to be one of the densest woods on Earth. While it can refer to many different types of trees, you can read about the ironwood tree found in the U.S. here: http://www.pima.gov/cmo/sdcp/species/iw/illus.html