** (out of four)
Sigh. Martial-arts loving panda Po (voiced by Jack Black) returns with his big appetite and big mouth to discover the truth about his birth parents and defeat yet another villainous animal (this time a peacock voiced by Gary Oldman) that’s come back for revenge. Cue the obvious self-empowerment lessons.
The buzz: This panda’s awfully popular for a creature with the annoying personality of Black and a catchphrase (“Ska-doosh!”) that, spelling aside, combines two things most people find objectionable. The first “Kung Fu Panda” was very well-animated and offered not a single surprise in the story or comedy department. Delivering Part 2 in 3-D won’t help that.
The verdict: You’d have to be made of stone not to go soft for a crying baby panda, and there’s no denying the movie’s visual appeal. Otherwise, this unfunny sequel is far more redundant than the surprisingly entertaining “The Hangover Part II.” “KFP2” is straightforward to a fault without any interest in using its characters (especially Po’s supporting cast of fighters voiced by stars such as Angelina Jolie and Seth Rogen) as more than just eventual McDonald’s toys. The makers of this franchise—which is set up for a Part 3, blah—seem to think animals doing kung fu is inherently awesome, which it’s not. That’s why this snoozer is just more of the same, which was already more than enough.
Did you know? Though he realizes that his father (James Hong) is a goose, Po didn’t grasp until early in “Kung Fu Panda 2” that he was adopted. Denial is a powerful thing.
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