I'm glad to say that Kung Fu Panda 2 lives up to the same standard as the original, or even exceeds it. Of course, I'm saying this while my inner child is running around kicking and punching kung fu style while screaming "Cool!"
Kung Fu Panda 2 has all the elements needed for an animated movie to succeed. It's accessible to both kids and adults, without being condescending to one or juvenile to the other. It uses the fact that in animation, anything is possible, constructing a world of gravity defying acrobatic martial arts that feels natural, something is very hard to pull off. I mean, I love Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but at times the wire work in that movie feels like, well, wire work, as in you know it isn't real. With the Kung Fu Panda movies that intense action can be portrayed naturally. Well, as natural as is possible with animation.
The movie succeeds in both its visual and story elements. First, the visual. This is a gorgeous movie, with cinematic backgrounds and flowing, graceful characters. The story is heartfelt, with Po and the villain Shen mirroring each other. Both are dealing with issues they have with who they are and what happened with their parents. The story and visual elements collide and support each other during flashbacks Po experiences, the flashbacks being more stylized until an essential truth is revealed. I don't want to say much more, but the moment when the style switches is one of the most heart-wrenching in the film.
That's not to say that the entire film is a constant downer, tugging on your heartstrings until they snap. There is plenty of humor worked in, with moments that both kids and adults will find hilarious.
I enjoyed this film immensely. In fact, I would even be willing to go and see Kung Fu Panda 3 when it comes out. Let's just say the ending of 2 definitely sets up for a third installment, and I'm excited to see this story continue.
Go and see it. Right now. You wont' be disappointed, well, at long as you have a measurable sense of humor.