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Kung Fu Panda 2. 3D

I'm not too big on sequels, especially animated ones. It is my belief that unless a story was constructed as a part of a larger saga, a sequel could be only one thing and one thing only: a moneymaker.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is also a moneymaker. Just like Kung Fu Panda 3, which was hinted at by this film.

First, the 3D review.

God, not another boring, jargon-filled 3D review.

Frankly, I'm getting tired of writing 3D reviews. First, it's boring. No one reads these reviews for information on stereography, anyway. Second, there's only so much I can say about 3D. Stereoscopic 3D works on a very simple principle that pretty soon, any writer would've exhausted everything about the topic.

So let me just pose a 3D conundrum (conundrum?!), inspired by one shot from this film. Imagine a long shot: It starts with a bust shot of a panda, zooms out to that same panda looking over a rice field with several more pandas planting rice, then finally zooms out again to an entire Chinese village, seen from a bird's eye view. Of course, this is a computer-animated film, but if you were to duplicate that shot in live action 3D, how would you do it? The stereography of a close-up is different from the stereography of a long shot. So how do you do it? How would you switch from this set-up

The beam splitter rig. For close-ups.

to this set-up

The side-by-side rig. For long shots.

all in one shot?

In my opinion, this cannot be done exactly as it could with CGI. Yeah, you could work your way around it. But it wouldn't be as precise as letting computers do all the work.

Boring! Move on to the regular review!

Okay then.

There's a new concept I sort of created. I call it the "voice mismatch". I keep mentioning about how the art of voice acting is almost dead, thanks to the big Hollywood names who don't even bother to change their voices. Some actors plainly refuse to change their voices even just a little. It works for some characters, though, as the actor's natural voice suits the characters well. For others, well, it's a different story.

So let's analyze the voice acting in Kung Fu Panda 2. Each voice actor will get a grade of either a Pass or a Fail.

Character: Po
Voice actor: Jack Black
Result: Match
Jack Black's voice is still Jack Black. That's because Po is supposed to be funny, and when the audience hears Jack Black's voice, they're supposed to go, "Hey, it's Jack Black, so this character must be funny." It works, anyway. Jack Black has a fat man's voice, and Po is a fat panda.

Character: Tigress
Voice actor: Angelina Jolie
Result: Mismatch
Angelina doesn't have a distinct voice. She sounds like any other woman. She gets minus points for that. Also, she exerted no effort at all to sound like a tiger. Or a cat even. She just sounds like... any other woman.

Character: Master Shifu
Voice actor: Dustin Hoffman
Result: Match
Dustin Hoffman is a small man, and since Shifu is also a small... whatever he is... it kind of suits him well. Also, there's a gruffness to Hoffman's voice that makes Shifu sound "old with a lot of phlegm".

Character: Lord Shen
Voice actor: Gary Oldman
Result: Match
I didn't recognize the voice at first. But I loved it. It sounded like pure evil. And I had to wait for the end credits just to find out who voiced the peacock. I assure you, after watching this flick, you'll never think of a peacock as an effeminate creature again.

Character: Viper
Voice actor: Lucy Liu
Result: Mismatch
This is basically a negligible role. Viper doesn't talk much. And she doesn't sound like a snake. Nor does she sound like Lucy Liu. Viper was way cooler in the first film.

Character: Crane
Voice actor: David Cross
Result: Match
Frankly, I don't know who David Cross is. So I'll just give him a passing grade.

Character: Monkey
Voice actor: Jackie Chan
Result: Match
This is possibly the most racist example of voice casting ever. Why do Asians always have to be the monkey? Is it because our broken English makes us sound more stupid and monkey-like?

Character: Mantis
Voice actor: Seth Rogen
Result: Mismatch
Much as I love Seth Rogen, this is really the biggest voice mismatch in this film. Rogen's voice is deep. But his Mantis character is tiny. Keeping Rogen's deep voice in this tiny character is the stupidest move ever.

Character: Master Croc
Voice actor: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Result: Match
I know what you're thinking. "Woah! Jean-Claude Van Damme!" I know, right? The reason Van Damme is here is the same reason that Jackie Chan is also here: as a clear nod to martial arts movies. As if the viewers will get a glimpse of their martial arts skills through their voice alone. Also, I think Van Damme decided to take this gig after turning down The Expendables.

Character: Wolf Boss
Voice actor: Danny McBride
Result: Match
Danny McBride is the ultimate team player. In Fanboys, he didn't even care whether he was in the end credits or not. He just loves being funny. Here in this film, I think he still doesn't give a damn whether people realize he's Danny McBride or not. The important thing to him is that the Wolf Boss should be one of the funniest characters in this film.

Character: Soothsayer
Voice actor: Michelle Yeoh
Result: Mismatch
Although this character has a beard, the Soothsayer is a woman. And she's supposed to be old. Michelle Yeoh's voice, however, is so Zen, so soothing, that it doesn't sound like someone so old that she needs a cane to stand up. And again, Michelle Yeoh is here because she was also in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Character: Mr. Ping
Voice actor: James Hong
Result: Mismatch
James Hong is the go-to guy for old Asian roles. He played Tia Carrere's father, the old Asian guy, in Wayne's World 2. He also played Aaliyah's father, the old Asian guy, in Romeo Must Die. His voice is too high-pitched, whiny, and downright annoying for a duck. Of course, that's just my opinion. But it's my opinion that counts in this review, innit?

So ends this review. That's five voice mismatches among the major cast. Don't get me wrong, this is a great movie. Despite the voice mismatches, the awesome and mind-blowing action sequences clearly made up for it.

Kung Fu Panda 2. USA. 2011.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.

*some info from IMDbpics from YouTube, Deviant Art, 3DGuy.TV, Digital Media Net, Ning.com, IMDb, All Movie Photo, Movie Wallpaper

You may also want to read the review for the first Kung Fu Panda film.


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