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With Po's status as the Dragon Warrior proven to all, Master Shifu has a new challenge for him; teaching Introduction to Kung Fu class to a bunch of a rambunctious bunny children. After getting the class to come to order, Po teaches them that fighting is only part of kung fu, while its true meaning is "Excellence of Self." To explain this philosophy, Po tells stories of each of his comrades, The Furious Five, and how they faced formative challenges in their youth that helped define them as true masters of kung fu. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Come on Dreamworks, you can do better than this...
The basic story here is that Po has to teach Kung Fu to some little kids. Er, kittens. He explains that there is a lot more to Kung Fu than kicking arse, and goes on to tell the stories of how each of the Furious Five became Kung Fu masters by doing something that was not kicking arses.
Now, here is where my main gripe comes in: While the scenes of Po and the kittens are rendered in the sort of glorious 3D that made 'Kung Fu Panda' look so awesome in the first place, the stories that Po narrates are animated in rather shabby 2D. And while I am a huge fan of 2D animation and see its cinematic demise as a very bad thing, I've _never_ liked 2D animation when it looks this bad.
Now, it is true that about 60% of the time one can almost forgive the doubtful animation as being stylised. But there's still that unforgivable 40%, where you're watching it and thinking "I don't care what look they were aiming for, they missed." This is particularly bad when one considers that for all the shortcomings that Dreamworks films generally have, at least one can depend on them _looking_ good.
Then there's the issue of the all-star vocal talent, or more to the point, it's absence. Jack Black is back to voice Po, and Dustin Hoffman and David Cross also reprise their roles... but no one else does. Seriously, with all of 5 lines to say in the original film, would it really have been that much of a stretch to get Jackie Chan to say a couple more for this sequel-of-sorts? I know he's a busy man and that his lines probably don't come cheap, bet really.
Finally, there's the story of Master Stork, who learned that to be a Kung Fu master, one must have confidence.
In other words, his story is exactly the same as Po's. So after seeing 'Kung Fu Panda' in all its wafer-thin plotness, we get this, presumably to show how easily the entire plot of KFP can be compressed in to about three minutes. I'm not really sure what to make of that. Is it simply Dreamworks' quiet way of admitting that yes, the plot to KFP could fit on to the back of a matchbox? And if so, should I get mad anyway because they don't seem very sorry? Or maybe they actually didn't think we'd notice, which means they've started treating the audience with the same sort of contempt we've come to expect from Pixar (dodges thrown tomatoes... but I dare you to deny it...) Either way, they've sold us the same story twice, which is kinda annoying.
Honestly, I think I preferred 'Hammy's Boomerang Adventure', an extra that was bundled *FREE* with the DVD of 'Over the Hedge'. Sure, it was only 4 minutes long, but into that 4 minutes they managed to pack more laughs , more awesome animation, and on top of that there wasn't a celebrity sound-alike to be heard anywhere.
I daresay I'd have appreciated this if it had been a DVD extra, but it hardly warrants its own DVD case and price tag.
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