KFP2 has an outstanding collection of talented voice actors, ranging from Angelina Jolie to Seth Rogen to Jackie Chan and director Jennifer Yuh uses them well. I’ve said this before but one of my pet peeves in an animated film is when a character (or characters) is relegated to second fiddle behind the actor providing the voice. I don’t want a constant reminder that “actor X” is the face behind the drawing. I never had that issue here. In the back of my mind, I knew that the praying mantis is actually Seth Rogen but it wasn’t constantly shoved in my face. And then there’s Gary Oldman, of course, who brings a brilliant, villainous tone to the role of Shen. I’ve often said that if you want to make your film better, just add Gary Oldman and you’re done. Shen is a more intimidating baddie than you could reasonably expect from this movie and an improvement over the villain in the first Kung Fu Panda.
The area in which KFP2 sets itself apart from the average kiddie movie is in the sheer beauty of its animation. This is a gorgeous film that mixes sweeping landscapes with exquisitely detailed characters and powerful action sequences. For my money, the Kung Fu Panda franchise is the most visually compelling of the Dreamworks properties and I almost (almost) think it might have been worth seeing in 3D. All told, this is a highly enjoyable and funny movie that should please viewers of all ages. And in a year that is devoid of a strong Pixar entry, I would make the case that this is the best animated film of the year.