This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
"Kung Fu Panda 2" is exactly as you'd expect, and more. The animation is elegant, the story is much more involving than in the original, and there's boundless energy. I enjoyed it as fully as I possibly could, given the horror of its 3-D. The original film, in 2-D wide-screen, was just fine. But never mind. Hollywood has brainwashed us (or itself) that 3-D is an improvement and not an annoyance.
What's best about this sequel is that it's not a dutiful retread of the original, but an ambitious extension. Of the many new elements, not least is the solution of the mystery of how Mr. Ping, a goose, could be the biological father of Po, a panda. In the original film, as nearly as I can recall, every character represented a different species, so I thought perhaps inscrutable reproductive processes were being employed. But no, Po's parenthood is explained here, and it has a great deal to do with new developments in the kingdom.
As we rejoin events in this mythical Chinese kingdom, Po (voice of Jack Black), having attained the status of Dragon Warrior in the first film, still leads the Furious Five: Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross). Of these Tigress is clearly the most formidable, and Mantis remains the enigma; even though he sounds like Seth Rogen, how does he get past the weigh-in?
The kingdom now faces the prospect that it will be conquered and ruled by the evil peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), whose minions have designed a new weapon that causes him to scour the land for scrap iron. This Shen is a wicked foe, hurling sharp, pointed feathers from his tail like a circus knife-thrower. It turns out that the mystery of Po's parentage is explained by Lord Shen's paranoia after a soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) tells him to beware of pandas, so their destinies are linked more deeply than Po can imagine.