Reviews Comments: Not as good as Number 1
Not as good as Number 1
This is your classic Portal 1 vs Portal 2 debate. Which is better? Now I LOVE Kung Fu Panda. Its a thing of beauty. It didn't need a sequel. The story was self-contained, it tied up all loose ends, and with How To Train Your Dragon and Shrek 4, its my all-time favorite DreamWorks CGI film. When Panda 2 came out, I have to admit I was overall impressed. The scenery, the locations were gorgeous, and the villain, Lord Shen, is pretty damn awesome too. Regretfully, all the other characters were pretty forgettable. The whole "Mr. Ping ain't my dad" subplot got way too much attention. Why? The Christmas special already established family is where the heart is, didn't it? That's the message I took with me. What difference does it make? Cause you say so story-writers? Its true a sequel can never be as original as, well, the original. But that nagging question is still begged: Is this better than the original? Short answer: No. Panda 2, unfortunately makes three egregious dumb cliches that managed to spoil the story for me.
- 1. The Worf Effect. Po at the end of the last film WAS A DRAGON MASTER. He dwarfed the Furious Five and even Master Shifu in terms of battle prowess and raw martial arts skills. The second still has him idolizing the failure-five, and now he can't even keep up with Shifu... what?!
- 2. The "Chosen One" Prophecy. Oh God No! A goat, Soothsayer, has a vision that "a warrior of black-and-white" will defeat Shen. That's all the story summarized to its bare working parts folks. Now, I HATE PROPHECIES. I detest them. They are self-fulfilling and dominate the plot. The villain tries to prevent "Teh Prophecy" and hero, fulfills it. How anticlimactic and pointless. Whoever thought this was a good idea?
- 3. THOSE. FLASHBACKS. Together with point 1, Po is crippled, burdened with memories of his mother. These flashbacks are horrendous because they keep reoccurring over and over and over... well you get the point. To get the same flashback popping in and out during awesome fighting scenes and character developments isn't as annoying as it is frustrating.
Sorry, but I'm gonna have to argue against all three of those points. What you call "cliche's" are essentially three of the most SENSIBLY handled aspects of the story for the sake of, for lack of a better word, believability in the manner that helps the sense of progress from the first film to this one that much. 1. The first movie hardly indicated that in terms of raw martial arts ability he had anything close to the level of the ive or even Tai Lung. That was more or less made OBVIOUS considering the majority of their fight in the first movie was Po being a Pragmatic Hero more than out-fighting Tai Lung at all. If anything, the consistency is there AND more sensible than immediately implying that unlocking your fancy title means IMMEDIATELY living up to it. NO. That, if anything, is what the third film is for. If anything, Po going all Instant Expert after beating Tai Lung (again, more out of pragmatism than sheer Kung Fu prowess) would've been skirting dangerously close to Gary Stu territory. 2. Yeah, too bad it was ten times what you're making it out to be in the first one. The whole thing works leagues more in this second one seeing as how it actually INDULGES IN THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES on a far grander scale, downplaying the idea of it being pre-determined or a prophecy and solidifying how much of it was more based on the choices that certain characters COULD have avoided making. When you judge something for its concept based on a personal bias over appreciating the execution of it on a more intricate standpoint, that's not the movie's problem. I for one stopped caring what the film was and was more engaged in HOW it went about it. 3. They're all of three seconds long, and while the reveal is predictable, the presentation and execution more than make up for that. Not to mention one or two subtle reveals involving other characters here and there during the big reveal flashback when Po's memories come back in full. So yeah, I'm gonna have to go on record and say, no, this sequel is DEFINITELY better, which yes, is saying alot coming from someone who enjoyed the first one so much that even my skepticism for it before release waned sooner than most people.
comment #23748 BloodRawKnuckle 9th Apr 14
To me, they're at about the same level. I liked the first one a lot, but I agree with BloodRawKnuckle about the plot, and Shen was a much better villain than Tai Lung. However, those improvements were completely offset by Po becoming effectively cannon-proof in the end. I get that they had to somehow work in the whole "raindrop" thing directly into the film, but that was just a bridge too far for me, especially Po has ALREADY survived a point-blank shot from the uber-cannon earlier in the film. It's especially frustrating because it would have been rather easy to change those scenes. For the uber-cannon shot, it would have made a lot more sense if Shen, being in a hurry, forgot to load the thing and fired a blank. Then, it would have INCREASED our respect for the weapon instead of diminishing it, and built up more tension for the final scene. There, instead of all wolf gunners apparently not knowing how to lead their shots, some would have shot, but missed, establishing cannons as also being realistically inaccurate. When Shen had snapped and destroyed all the ships blocking his way he would have been hoisted by his own petard, as either his own ship caught on fire from explosions or the sunken debris simply piled up underwater and stranded the ship, leading to Po kicking ass on-board. If they really had to work in the raindrop scene, they should have had him using it to survive rain of debris instead of cannonballs. Then, it would have been the best Dreamworks film.
comment #23757 NTC3 10th Apr 14
Also, nice to see another Shrek 4 fan. I would be quite interested to read your review of it.
comment #23758 NTC3 10th Apr 14
^^ Yeah. I know it's a kids' movie, but my suspension of disbelief disintegrated when I saw Po (who had never before displayed abilities suggesting he had the strength, speed, grip, precision, and reflexes to do so) catch a cannonball and throw it back. Another problem I had with the sequel is the massive amounts of Badass Decay on the part of the Furious Five. Though what we know of them is much of people telling how great they are, the action scenes in the first movie firmly established every member as a true badass. Come the second movie, where the greatest martial arts team in the world is beaten and chained up by regular Mooks.
comment #23759 Mr.Movie 10th Apr 14
'Never before?' Did you forget he was able to learn Kung Fu from sheer motivation for food in the first one? The fact that this movie managed to play up the climax by way of the central plot instead of what was, let's face it, borderline deus ex machina in the first one by comparison with the likes of the Wuxi Finger Hold which was treated as more of a brick joke. The cannonballs scene in this was ultimately able to still be taken more seriously on that note. As for the complaint about Po surviving a point-blank shot, you make it sound like you COMPLETELY forgot the circumstances at hand—he was blown clean out of a building and would've likely died anyway if the Soothsayer didn't tend to him. To me, everything in that scenario you described would've done more to take away the emphasis that the plot had on its message of inner peace, however much they happened to already beat that phrase into the film. I stopped worrying about suspension of disbelief in this franchise when a technique that involves flexing a finger can cause a city-wide shockwave.
comment #23760 BloodRawKnuckle 10th Apr 14
Also, on the problem of the Five being chained up by regular mooks, I'd make the argument they didn't try putting up a fight and surrendered after seeing what happened to Po, especially considering 1. Tigress' obvious grieving, and 2. Once Po returned, they had no problems taking out these same mooks by the literal boat-load. Sure, still not necessarily the most excusable turn of events for some people, but that's an outcome I'd've figured was pretty obvious. Hell, if the first movie can be anything to go by, it's that being even remotely reckless can be too costly, considering Tai Lung thrashed them pretty soundly once he got serious.
comment #23761 BloodRawKnuckle 10th Apr 14
^^ Finger Hold Shockwave was (largely) Played for Laughs, as well as a reference to Kill Bill, so it gets a pass. Here, however, the fact that they couldn't work in their message in any other way is a NEGATIVE, not a positive. One great writer, (I think it was Mark Twain, though I'm not sure), has said that you should never let themes get in the way of the story, or else it becomes hamfisted, and that is very much the case here. Plus, if we are talking about messages here, isn't the whole point of having inner peace in real life is so that you can AVOID unnecessary conflict? If anything, the ending where Shen shooting the channel clear of his ships led to his downfall would have been MORE in line with the message: Po has learnt to embrace inner peace and not only survived but emerged victorious. Shen put his stock into numbers of discontent mooks and cannons that are unable to do anything but destroy. Then, he lost everything, including his life, when he killed his underlings to get ahead and bring more destruction, instead of being sufficiently at peace to let them fail. Oh, and it would have additional Ironic Echo ring to it: Shen spent all that time trying to ensure that he wouldn't be defeated by warrior of black and white and succeeded: he has defeated himself instead.
comment #23768 NTC3 10th Apr 14
Oh, and can you please explain how Po surviving the point-blank shot (OK, barely survived, but still, he should have been panda puree by all rights) NOT because of any inner peace but because he managed to grab a tiny frying pan in time ties in with ANY of the film's themes? Again, blank shot would have BOTH proven the power of the weapon AND shown that they still have day-to-day limitations (as opposed to "he's our main character, so he gets to live, but that rhino shmuck isn't important, so it's grave time for him" limitations).
comment #23769 NTC3 10th Apr 14
Hardly, to pretty much everything in your first post. There is a FINE LINE between a message getting in the way of the story, and a message BEING TOLD in the story. They portray it in a manner that not only DOES further develop Po's character, but in a manner of contrast to the villain on a much more emotional level than that between whatever parallel Po and Tai Lung had. Much of what you're putting in your scenario is what still ultimately happened in simply a different manner. If they wanted to stress that kind of pacifism to that level, they could've but there's such a thing as a goddamn climax, and acting excessively as you put it is still what Shen did, and still what ULTIMATELY got him killed. But still, the key word in you sentence on that subject is "UNNECESSARY", and that WAS addressed between Shen and the Soothsayer. But let's face it, he's a villain, and there's still about forty minutes of the movie left. All I'm getting from what you're presenting are drawing out the scenarios that just so happened to go by at a faster pace. That's a nitpick if anything. Secondly, it's the conversation directly BEFOREHAND that tied more in with the themes of the film, in this case, Shen essentialy directing his own experiences with his family from his own perspective onto Po as something of a "Break him by Talking" speech. Po was able to survive Tai Lung smashing into him with the force that made a freaking crater in the middle of the city, and with even less degree of damage. As a sheer technicality, Po's pudginess was shown enough times throughout both films to be as much a status symbol as an offensive AND defensive tool in its own right.
comment #23770 BloodRawKnuckle 10th Apr 14
I prefer Tai Lung over Shen, for the simple reason that he was deconstructed so brilliantly. Tai was at least funny, and for him to get his comeuppance at the hands of Po was hilarious. Admit it: You all got a chuckle when he *meowed* after accidentally biting his own tail mid-fight. Shen however, was deadly serious and psychopathic. There were no laughs to be hand with him, especially when you consider he was a tragic character, which makes him seem horribly out-of-place considering this is supposed to be a comedy film after all. But the biggest aggrievance by far I had in Panda 2, was how they handled the relationship between Po and Master Shifu. Its plain horrible guys! In Panda 1 they started off hating each others guts, but gradually build up this adoring respect and platonic teacher-and-student love for each other. In 2, Shifu gives Po the CONSTANT cold shoulder and mysticism sermon. What. The. Hell!? Oh, and he sends them to Gongmen City. A decision which is rendered pointless as he shows up in the final battle anyway. That was the writers limiting his screen-time to build up any development and bonding. Even worse, when he is there, Po goes to hug him, and he completely blows him off. ARGH.
comment #23798 Welshbie 12th Apr 14
Actually, just thinking about it has opened up wounds. I'm really anger with how they handled that - FOR GOD'S SAKE - Shifu ALWAYS was a kind and loving person, he never had children of his own, but loved all of his students as his own. Then Tai's thirst and lust for power utterly broke his heart. He never got close or emotionally involved with his students again. Oogway saw this sad change, and KNEW, Shifu would find TRUE inner peace with the bumbling loud fun-loving hungry idiot who always drives him to distraction. Oogway KNEW no matter how much Shifu meditated he would never be happy. Bonding with and spending time with Po was EXACTLY what the old master needed. He needed help to enjoy life again, to let his obsession of his own failures and lack-of-control go. WHAT DOES PANDA 2 DO? Screws over the message completely and say "Nah! Meditation NOT love is really the key to "inner-Dragonball-Z-powers-peace".
comment #23799 Welshbie 12th Apr 14
Tai Lung had virtually ZERO deconstruction compared to Shen, and that's why his humor really only worked because it was bouncing on him from Po. If anything, his lack of screentime compared to Shen not only hindered that by comparison, but also made his humorous moments less in line with the sense of parallel that existed between Po and Shen. And it also helped to be able to take Shen that much MORE seriously as a villain and a more fleshed out character. He plays on the humor a lot more by way of his contrasting personality and his better sense of wit, while still making for a better execution of comedy that involves the aforementioned "Po bouncing the humor onto him" albeit, less literally. Secondly, I don't even think you know what you're talking about anymore regarding Po and Shifu. I'm questioning if you so much as paid attention to even the dialogue regarding this stuff. Considering Shifu's characterization was essentially resolved at the end of the first one, this one is a matter of showing how much more fully-rounded he became, and to that end, his far more reserved demeanor was a means of . He wasn't giving Po anything close to a cold shoulder, he was as trustful and respectful in Po as all the Furious Five had shown to be. You're reading nothing into the intricacies and way too much into the visual physical humor. Yes, a comparative lack of screen time got in the way of that to a point, but do you know why he DID eventually make it to the city? Because he WAS so emotionally connected once more with his students to the point of inner peace that when Po was near death, it almost LITERALLY hurt him just from sensing that kind of disturbance. Don't say even for a damn minute that Shifu was trying to distance himself. It was a matter of trust that he didn't accompany Po, and a matter of genuine concern that led him TO join him eventually.
comment #23800 BloodRawKnuckle 12th Apr 14
Shen? Deconstructed? What are you talking about? He becomes more and more determined to kill Po. That's not breaking the haughty! Shen is serious, glad you agree, but funny? No. No, he is not. Believable? Hmmm, debatable, but I'm not here to discuss the film's strengths, I'm here to scrutinise the differences between the films. And don't give me the apologist routine with Shifu, if you can't see how much fun n passion they sucked out of his character by the end of the first film, then I don't know where to begin showing you otherwise, because that's a fact you're wilfully ignoring and dismissing as "oh his story arc is complete", Don't give me that. They were perfect and an absolute riot together. THEY made the 1st film so watchable. Why do you prefer a serious more darker film over an action/comedy animated film? That's obviously not what you really want in a film if you picked up Panda 1 in the 1st place.
comment #23809 Welshbie 13th Apr 14
First of all, your description of Shen has NOTHING to do with not deconstructing him. It's the fact that they SHOW just how far as well as WHY that mkes him a much better deconstruction, and it's utilized both dramatically and humorously depending on the scene. I found his own self-contained humor that wasn't reliant on Po (again, the only humor Tai Lung had). It worked better because it was through scenes like this, which also grew increasingly more emotional, that made him the FAR MORE well-established and deconstructed villain. That's on top of having more and better humorous scenes with the likes of Po or even the Soothsayer. Thee only differences it has from the first one is how it doubles every one of the first films' strengths. Unless you can actually detail how much fun and passion they took away from Shifu, which you have yet to do, I'm not gonna take that point seriously when the film itself makes the obvious point that we're dealing with. If YOU'RE going to ignore the points in the story that DO reinforce his relationship with Po, that's not the movies' fault if you wanted more humor, considering the most humor had from Po and Shifu was based on the borderline utilitarian initial relationship they had. That would be REHASHING which the film is smart enough to avoid. Instear, it expands on what NEW relationships were started in the first one, or finally detailing on ones that were less touched upon. If they alone made the first film so watchable, EVERYTHING ELSE makes this film that much more engaging. It has nothing to do with making a more serious or dark film, because this film also ups the action and the comedy as well. This sequel is if anything, a kind of growth that follows in suit with the viewers as well. What I look for in a Kung Fu Panda film is a movie that balances all aspects of action, comedy, and drama based on characterization that knows how to delve into both perspectives and parallels between the characters, and Kung Fu Panda 2 played all of that to the next level despite even being shorter than the first—to that end it's essentially more well-paced as well because there wasn't a moment that I was thinking there needed to be more things addressed in any scene.
comment #23843 BloodRawKnuckle 14th Apr 14
Okay, I know that this discussion has progressed a long way since, but I really feel the need to address your original three points first simply because they are THAT stupid. 1. I have no idea how you watched the final battle in the first film and came to the conclusion that Po was a "Dragon Master" now. I thought that battle made it VERY clear that, even though he beat Tai Lung, he still has a lot to learn. Honestly, he's a lot BETTER in the sequel because you can see him using actual technique in his fighting style instead of the "Slapstick Fu" he used against Tai Lung. 2. Apparently, you forgot about that whole Dragon Warrior prophecy from the first film. Yeah, it's a bit lame that they reused a plot point like that, but it's about a completely different scenario so I forgive it. Plus, the second one is more well-done because it has a deep, emotional impact on everyone involved while the first was little more than a plot device. 3. ...It happened twice and lasted a good five seconds each. THAT is one of your three big complaints about the film? Are you freaking kidding me? As for your current Po/Shifu argument...I don't get it either. Shifu went from a complete Jerkass who treated his students like crap to a tranquil, reserved mentor who cares so much about his students that he crosses half the country to rescue them, and you think this is NOT an improvement? What? Finally, I have to say that I find your "Why do you prefer a darker film?" question really funny because honestly? I didn't really like Panda 1 that much. I thought it was an okay film with good visuals, but nothing special. The second film is what got me hooked on the franchise and the darker elements were the main reason. Between an action/comedy and an action/comedy with a more serious plot, I'll choose the latter every time.
comment #23844 Berserker88 14th Apr 14
Sorry for the double-post, but I really need to clarify that I think Panda 1 is a great film NOW, just not when it came out. I'm not sure why. I think maybe I was just too young at the time to appreciate anything beyond the visuals.
comment #23845 Berserker88 14th Apr 14
@Berserker88: "I didn't really like Panda 1 that much."
- resists the urge to tell you to GTFO* Sorry, but I don't have the time of day for you. Not after that troll-ish statement.
comment #23871 Welshbie 16th Apr 14
It also annoys me how something as little as the credits end sequence is rubbish compared to the 1st film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VMuLcwC2_A (best version I can find) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyrvE2CJNDQ And here's 2's watered-down effort... what a disappointing way to end a film... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqqk9PAwc_g
comment #23873 Welshbie 16th Apr 14
The fact that you completely isolate that one part of his comment says more to me that you're the only apologetic here. Not even counting if you think that's troll-ish when he straight up said it was this film that made him appreciate it. Once again, they developed their relationship as far as they possibly could between that of a student and a master in the first one. It doesn't take excessive amounts of screen time to let it be known the nature of the relationship, it takes what they make use of, and I've said at least multiple times that he has all the trust in the world for Po and the five, and all the concern and consideration for them to come to their aid at the first INKLING of something going wrong. That's more than enough for a character that was already fully-developed by the end of the first one. If they had to downplay tat in terms of screentime to more further develop the CENTRAL character as well as portray the progress and nature of his relationships with other characters, then that's a "sacrifice" well made. And again, the emphasis is just as much on the BALANCE between comedy and drama as the first one was, the difference being that it plays both far more effectively as well as that balance. If it's too dramatic for you that's your problem with it, but I could recognize how much more balance I got from both the humor and how much more empowered emotion I got from the dramatic moments. And now you're just picking at straws if you're trying to point to the credits sequences as a means of inferiority, not counting what a more triumphant and emotional note the second one ended on before the credits.
comment #23875 BloodRawKnuckle 16th Apr 14
@Welshbie: Wow. Really? I was feeling a little guilty about being so harsh to you in my criticisms, but that guilt is completely gone now. So thanks for that. Anyway...I'm glad that you finally brought up Shifu's lack of screen time because that's an actually legitimate complaint that I partially agree with. Yes, he was a fun character in the first film and it's a shame we didn't get to see more of him, but there's some pretty justified reasons why he couldn't go with the others. It would have left the Jade Palace completely unguarded and it would show a lack of faith in his students to handle it themselves. Yes, he ends up going anyway, but that just shows how much more he cares about them now. And from a writing standpoint, he simply would've made it too easy. So the only way they really could've given him more screen time would be to flash back to the Jade Palace every now and then to show him...what? Meditating? Reading tea leaves? As for the comedy, it's still there. It's certainly DIFFERENT in that it's more witty instead of the "Po sucks at kung fu" jokes that the first film was filled with, which makes perfect sense now that Po's just below the Five's level in ability, but the overall level of comedy is about the same. They just added more drama to it, so it feels less pronounced. I'm not even going to address the credits thing. I'll just say that "too many flashbacks" is no longer your dumbest argument.
comment #23893 Berserker88 17th Apr 14
Meh, can't be arsed to argue with either of you anymore. Panda 1 is a thing of beauty, and I'm truly very sad neither of you can recognize that. The debate is basically boiling down to an exchange of "nuh-uh!" at this point - you continually dismissing my objections and criticisms. Our opinions will never change.
comment #23895 Welshbie 17th Apr 14
I just sincerely hope they don't bring a love interest cliche into the third film... ...ugh, they probably will.
comment #23896 Welshbie 17th Apr 14
Everyone has the right to their opinion. But when critics and fans alike (including this one) praise the sequel as an improvement over an already good original, and then you go and say that the second film is worse than the first one, you should be prepared to defend your point of view and back it up with reasonable, well thought arguments. You have not. Your main problem seems to be that the second film is darker and more serious than the first film. What you seem to not understand is that this was not at the cost of comedy. The second film has plenty of funny scenes, and yes, Shen is part of it. Remember when Po is trying to train on the ship with the dropping water, the Soothsayer trolling Shen, the wolf henchman constantly talking about Po being plush and cuddly. The action sequences are like animated Jackie Chan fights. Remember the fight with the dragon costume, or the cart chase? The second film had much heavier drama, but there was still plenty of laughs. A sequel should not just rehash the original, it should expand on it. They could have either made this film funnier or more dramatic, and they chose the latter route. There's nothing wrong with that at all, because it worked. Regarding inner peace, you obviously did not understand the idea of it behind both films. The second film says outright that everyone has their own path to inner peace. Shifu reached inner peace by training Po and seeing Tai Lung defeated because it gave him closure, his greatest failure as a teacher was put to rest and he had finally trained a master student who was not corrupted by power, vindicating him as a master and showing him he was a worthy one. Po's path to inner peace was reconciling his past and realizing that his past does not define his future, and in spite of a troubled origin he has had a very happy and successful life. Shifu's path to inner peace involved Tai Lung getting his ass kicked, Po's path involved coming to terms with his unhappy past. Tai Lung was a good villain, but he was a straight forward one, there were no surprises and no complexities to him, the only interesting thing about him was that he was built as a flip of the traditional hero's story - rejected power and exiled, return to claim his birthright. Shen on the other hand is far more complex. His motivation is not really to conquer China for the sake of power anymore, but because he wants to stick it to the Soothsayer's prophecy that he'll fail to do it, and he knows that it won't actually make him happy but he's spent thirty years going after it, so what does he have left. Tai Lung gets defeated by slapstick kung fu and some really weird "pull my finger" joke and just sort of vanishes. Shen is defeated in an incredibly powerful and intense scene where Po uses what he's learned to *deflect cannonfire*, and after he's been foiled and realizes his life's work has been shattered before his eyes, he goes berserk. When he sees the cannon falling, he doesn't try to run or shield himself, he just closes his eyes and accepts it at last.
comment #23917 DrakeClawfang 18th Apr 14
And as a follow-up, this is why Po is the real master of the group and not the Furious Five - Po knew from the start he was not a powerful warrior and had no business trying to beat Tai Lung, the Furious Five were all eager to be the Dragon Warrior and even when they didn't get picked they ran off to fight Tai Lung because they thought they were good enough. Though not to the point of corrupting them to evil, they placed the same value on power and had the same ambition as Tai Lung. That's why Po is the Dragon Warrior, he has the personality for it, and the Furious Five don't. Po does not have the lifetime of kung fu training they do, and it shows in the second film when he makes errors in the fight scenes, but he understands the teachings of the art better.
comment #23918 DrakeClawfang 18th Apr 14
If I couldn't recognize Kung Fu Panda 1 as what you're describing it as, I'd've never considered the sequel that much better on all of these aspects, and I can just as groundlessly claim that's what you fail to recognize, on top of how trivially irrelevent your "objections and criticisms" were considering they're based completely on the concept in theory instead of execution in the actual films.
comment #23962 BloodRawKnuckle 19th Apr 14
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