DreamWorks Studio War Horse Movie Review

War Horse Movie

Opening Christmas Day, this DreamWorks Studio film brings to the big screen a story based on the children’s novel of the same name, War Horse. Since it was a story originally written for children, there was some liberty taken to create a vivid and visually stimulating film that would transport you back to World War I Europe. Directed by Steven Spielberg, you can expect a seamless transition from the opening to the very end.

Despite not having the money to buy the thoroughbred, Albert’s father’s pride overtakes him and he commits to buying a horse that is not intended to do farm work. Joey, as the horse is named, becomes Albert’s best friend and does for him chores and tasks a horse of his caliber never should. Joey and Albert work together to save the family farm, only to be sold to Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) as the war begins to mount. Distraught, Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) tried to join the military but is too young.

The story follows the horse from owner to owner, and through it, Albert becomes woven in as he joins the military effort. Nominated for two Golden Globes, War Horse features a grand view that is often associated with Spielberg films of this caliber. It is an episodic production that takes you from pre-war Britain through epic battles, grissly scenes of war and destruction, personal determination and love for a horse that somehow connects with every owner, to an ending that you hope for as the movie progresses.

It’s a very intense movie, as one would expect from a war-focused film. But just as intense as the war scenes, the interaction that each person has with Joey (played by 15 horses from foal to adulthood) is lovingly developed. As a representative of the over 8 million horses that lost their lives in World War I, Joey shows how much the war relied on the efforts of these amazing animals. Furthermore, it demonstrates that although they were often used to the point of breaking, the equine faction of the militaries were critical for more than just power. While most don’t befriend their war horse, there are those special bonds that do develop that allow the ordinary to do the extraordinary.

While it is historical fiction, we get a very good understanding of the various relationships that existed during the war as well and a glimpse at life in pre-war Europe.The cinematography is extraordinary and the entire cast transports you back to a time and place few of us would ever want to know. For adults who grew up hearing stories of World War I from their grandfathers, this movie will solidify those memories. For those of us who did not, the simplistic nature of the story sufficiently creates a narrative for a war we’ll never fully understand.

This isn’t as much a story about war as it is about courage and dedication. With a star-studded cast, and a few newcomers, War Horse is definitely an award-worthy film.  The main character doesn’t speak, but his story is beautifully told. Since the story was originally penned for children, it’s more a story about the powerful human bond with nature and the dedication to caring for each other that is basic to humanity. Set in a war, the story takes on multiple dimensions but never strays far from the theme of courageous action.

Definitely not for young children, War Horse is rated PG-13. While not overly violent or gory as compared to some movies, discretion is recommended. The mostly male cast allows for the few female roles to shine and both Emily Watson (Rosie Narracott) and Celine Buckens (Emilie) are wonderful and reel you further in to the theme.

War Horse Movie Trailer

Directed by Steven Spielberg; written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo; and produced by longtime partners Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy. The movie is released by DreamWorks Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Run time: 2 hours 26 minutes.

Opens December 25, 2011


Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening and did not pay to see the movie. I was not required to write about the movie as a condition of the invitation. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

Disney’s The Muppets Movie Review

Formula, trite, hilarious and laugh out loud funny, Disney’s The Muppets is a combination of 1980s schtick and current comedy. Co-written by Jason Segal, who also stars in the movie as Gary, the story stays true to what made The Muppets part of the family when they were TV darlings in the late 1970s. Amy Adams is the perfect balance, as Mary, to a cast that includes a multitude of cameos from celebrities most parents will easily recognize. And we’re introduced to Walter, Gary’s brother, who is, well, not like the other kids in Smalltown.

First things first – go see the movie! It’s not a film that will teach you anything or make you ponder the plight of anyone or anything. It’s a movie that will make you laugh and bring back memories of watching The Muppet Show in your living room as a child. All the characters are there, not having aged one bit – Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Beaker, Gonzo, Animal, and a host of ‘minor muppets’. And all the goofy gags are sprinkled in too.

Jack Black plays a small but important role, which I think missed the mark. He really could have been used better and the interaction funnier. Then again, I thought Nacho Libre and School of Rock were both very good. He is such a versatile actor and his sarcasm, wit and physical comedy would have added a great deal if it had been used better. Jack Black does a great job with what he’s given though.

Watching the movie it was easy to predict what would come next, which is why I say it was formula and trite. I say that in a good way. The Muppets franchise is very formula. I don’t expect out-of-the-box routines. Although, with so much more technology and all that has happened in the years since they’d last been together I expected more references to pop culture and current situation than were there.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie without Kermit or Miss Piggy. The love story was spot on, albeit a very minor part of the movie. I’m glad it was included because it’s that romantic tension between the two that really is the cohesion for The Muppets. That being said, Miss Piggy could have had a better back story. She’s the editor of Plus-Size Vogue in France! That could have been a bit more developed than the 3 minutes it got.

Enter the trite again with Kermit singing The Rainbow Connection and Miss Piggy appearing at the end. Again, I say that in a good way. If the movie did not include such a sappy rendition it just wouldn’t have been true to the history of The Muppets. And speaking of trite, let’s not forget the hokey musical numbers that are both lame and hilarious at the same time. Amy Adams really goes all out to take the sappyness we’d expect to a very muppetational level!

Without giving away the end, let’s just say it left me hanging. I realize the movie wasn’t about how it ended, but I just needed to know did they or didn’t they save the theater. There was too much attention paid to the bad guy at the end, although it did include a very typical muppet moment with Fozzie Bear banging his head and altering the tote-board.

I saw the screening and it included quite a few little and young kids, many of whom talked through the movie and asked a million questions. Annoying, to say the least. But it demonstrated that while the Muppets themselves are universal the story was probably over their head and definitely geared toward the parents who grew up with these characters. Even tweens, talking after the show, didn’t seem to understand why some of the gags were funny. Well, they’re funny only if you’ve watched the Muppets before and understand the relationship between the characters. For example, Animal being in an anger management program isn’t pertinent if you don’t realize how crazy Animal is. Gonzo blowing up his plumbing business is only funny if you understand that Gonzo’s many attempts at blowing things up is part of the Muppet franchise formula.

The Muppets movie is rated PG due to ‘some rude humor’. DUH! It’s the Muppets, of course there is rude humor. But, really, there isn’t much in there that I’d say you’d object to the average 5 year old seeing. Nonetheless, don’t go thinking this is one of those bland, milquetoast kind of movies with cute little muppets. There movie obviously wasn’t written for kids, but for the grown-ups who grew up with Muppets.

Go see the movie! It is funny, despite being something that feels like you’d have seen while sitting on your living wearing your pajamas before heading off to bed when you were a kid. I think Jim Hensen would be proud!

Manah Manah!

Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening and did not pay to see the movie. I was not required to write about the movie as a condition of the invitation. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

An Interview With Miss Piggy

The Muppets

To celebrate Fashion Week in New York, Miss Piggy – of Muppets fame – took some time out to answer a few questions. True to her no-holds-barred honesty, Miss Piggy was open with her views on coming back to the big screen, her take on fashion, as well as her multiple Oscar snubs. I’ve loved Miss Piggy since I was a child so this was a phenomenal opportunity to be privy to this interview.

In the upcoming The Muppets movie, scheduled to hit theaters November 23rd, Miss Piggy portrays the plus-size fashion editor of Vogue Paris. According to Miss Piggy, Kermit and the group come to Paris to convince her to return to American and get back with the Muppets to save the day and put on some big show. She would not give away the movie ending, instead saying ‘Go see the movie and find out.’

Here is an excerpt from the recent interview with Miss Piggy. [Note: Due to her strict diva demands, the complete interview was not made available to me.]

Miss Piggy
Famous Interviewer: How does your life differ from the characters you portray on the big screen?

Miss Piggy: In real life, my wardrobe is much, much bigger and more expensive, but I’m a lot like what you see on the big screen. The camera does add a few pounds—when people meet me in person they’re always amazed at how svelte I am. Take my word for it.

FI: What made you agree to star in Disney’s “The Muppets”?

MP: It was written especially for moi. And they said I could keep all the shoes.

FI: You are a fashion icon. What is your secret?

MP: I have a few fashion secrets:

  • Never wear anything that requires a hoist to get into.
  • There is no such thing as too much accessorizing.
  • If it’s expensive, it fits.
  • Style comes in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, the bigger you are, the more style you have.

FI: Are you and Kermit together?Of course we’re together.

MP: In the movie, we seem to be apart, but that’s just for dramatic tension. In real life, we’re fabulously happy and the longest-running interspecies couple in all of Hollywood.

To get a closer look at The Divine Miss P you can check out the array of Miss Piggy videos she has ‘authorized’.

Miss Piggy website image

ABOUT THE MOVIE

On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds. To stage a telethon and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. With secret, signature, celebrity cameos, Disney’s “The Muppets” hits the big screen Nov. 23, 2011.

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the interview with Miss Piggy. I receive PR information from Disney Studios, but am not required to post anything. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions and commentary are mine. I did not meet Miss Piggy, but then again she’s a very busy star and often doesn’t have time for people like me.

Sara

Fotolia Stock Photo Service Review

Photo Credit: Sample Image from Fotolia

You know what a stickler I am about the proper use of photos on blogs and websites. As a lawyer who has worked with clients to protect their images and use others’ images properly, I was very pleased when Fotolia contacted me to check out their stock photo service. I was provided with complimentary access for a month. You may have even noticed that for the last month the photos I’ve used have been a little different.

Fotolia offers exceptional quality images of just about anything. With nearly fifteen million images and HD videos available, finding just the right image for whatever you’re doing is easy. My problem was narrowing down the options.

As a royalty-free stock photo site, you just buy the image in the size you want for the purpose you need and you’re good to go. You can edit the image or create a derivative work and still be within your rights so long as you buy the correct type of image.

Fotolia charges you based on the size of the image. For the average blogger you’re probably looking at about $1-$3 per image. That may seem high, but for the peace of mind that you’re not risking your site being taken down it may be well worth it. For designers, the prices really can’t be beat. And for consultants and companies, the quality and cost is exceptional. With sizes ranging from 400×300 to over 15mp, there are photos for almost anything you would create.

When I was using the stock images, I credited each photo. The terms of Fotolia do not require attribution. I just felt it was a way to let you know where I got my images so I can be up front about the source.

If you’re looking for high quality stock images, look no further. I often use public domain or creative commons images, neither of which offer the versatility of stock photos. Fotolia has images for any type of post you may write, promotion you may be doing or design you are creating.

Check out Fotolia today. It’s free to join, you just pay for the images you want.

Disclosure:  Fotolia provided me with a one-month complimentary subscription to facilitate my review. I received no monetary compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

Review: The Help Movie

all images courtesy of Disney/Dreamworks

This past weekend while in San Diego, Disney and Dreamworks Pictures offered me the opportunity to see a screening of The Help movie. I’d heard the movie was terrific. I wanted to take my mother-in-law to see it when it opened so taking in the screening would help me to convince her, if need be.

Let me begin by saying the only thing that could have made this experience better would have been a giant box of tissues on my seat. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll definitely need a few extra tissues. If you’ve read the book, you already know.

If you recall a bit of your high school history, you’ll remember that black people living in the south in the 1960s were second class citizens. Life for blacks was very separate from that of whites. While not legally slavery, it may as well have been.

The Help movie is based on the best selling book by Kathryn Stockett. And while the movie deviates some from the book, the general feel is not lost. The movie features a star-studded cast that meshes well and portrays their characters flawlessly with a true sense of believability. To see Cicely Tyson walk in, you know you’re seeing her best. Sissy Spacek is a scene stealer portraying Missus Walters. She has terrific lines, lovely period costumes and a time-honored cigarette dangling from her fingers.

There are several pivotal characters, some of which make you want to hug them because you just adore them and others you want to narrow your eyes and say ‘you should know better’. Emma Stone is very believable as Skeeter Phelan, a young woman fresh out of college who see that black women have a compelling story and wants to capture it. Viola Davis connects you deeply with Aibelline Clark, a black maid who has raised many white children and struggles emotionally with the killing of her own son. Her best friend, Minny, played by Octavia Spencer, is both funny and cautious.

I’m a child of the 1970s, and while the Civil Rights movement had made great strides since the 1960s, I still saw this concept of separate but equal. There were no separate bathrooms or entrances, but the tension when black people were around was often too much. I grew up around black people and heard many first hand accounts of what life was like in the south during the mid-1900s.

This movie made me recall the stories from my mother’s best friend, Julia, who grew up during this time period. It made me think of my grandparent’s neighbor, whom my grandmother referred to as her sister and brother, who were born in the 1920s and both marched on Washington. I saw my mother-in-law who was a young girl during this time period and lived in the south.

It’s a beautiful movie that is funny, heartwarming, and heart wrenching at the same time. It’s a glimpse into a world that often gets sanitized because it’s not easy to watch. But the movie stays true to the period, even though it is very uncomfortable at times. The movie is a reminder of both how far we’ve come since the 1960s and how much we still need to go.

I can see this movie cleaning up at the awards ceremonies. It’s just that good. The attention to details really pays off as you are transported back to a time when black people were treated as less than. This is a must see film that both men and women will appreciate. It is filled with emotions (hence the need for plenty of tissues) and there are clear protagonists to root for as well as antagonists that make you so angry but you sympathize for them and their small minds

Go see the movie! Take plenty of tissues with you, too. This movie can easily be included with Roots and The Color Purple in its far-reaching impact on our culture.

The Help movie will be in theaters beginning Wednesday, August 10, 2011. Don’t pass up the opportunity to see it. The big screen really helps to showcase the larger than life characters that you will both love and hate.

Change begins with a whisper. So true!

Are you eager to see the movie? Did you read the book? When you see it, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Disclosure: I was provided a complementary screening as well as a goody bag with a paper fan, a book mark and a canister of ‘The Help’ branded tea bags. I was not required to write abou this movie, nor has this post been reviewed by a third party. These are my opinions and thoughts and I’m writing this because the story is just that terrific!

Sara

Recipe and Review: Tavern Direct Smokin’ Chipotle Marinade

Smokin' Chipotle Street Tacos image - All Rights Reserved

This month, Tavern Direct sent me Smokin’ Chipotle Marinade and Sauce. It’s a Mexican twist on a gourmet BBQ sauce when you want that sweet and hot flavor. My first thought, though was to use it in making something that is basic but enjoyed by everyone that eats them – Street Tacos!

I marinaded the chicken for a few hours and baked them in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes. After they cooled, I shredded the chicken and tossed it with a few tablespoons of marinade to give it a little extra kick.

When you’ve read my other reviews and recipes for other Tavern Direct sauces you know I go for quick and easy but a lot of flavor. So just like the Steak Sauce Vinaigrette, Chandelier Greek Pasta Salad or Asian Slaw, these Smokin’ Chipotle Street Tacos are – as they say on The Food Network – Off The Hook!

At just $8.50 a bottle, this will turn you into the gourmet chef everyone already thinks you are. Only you don’t have to do any work. Add it to burgers, marinade chicken, use it as a spicy BBQ sauce for steak. You can’t go wrong!

And because Lou is such a great guy he’s giving me a 20% off code so you can get some in your kitchen ASAP!

Visit TavernDirect and Save 20% on your favorite oils, sauces and gift baskets! Use coupon code: Wild20

Smokin’ Chipotle Chicken Street Tacos

Serves 4
Level: Super Easy
Time: 15 min prep, 20-25 min cooking

2 Chicken Breasts (I use on the bone for more flavor)
1/4 cup Smokin’ Chipotle Marinade

1 can Black Beans
1/4 Red Onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup Mexican Cheese
12 corn tortillas
Salsa or pico de gallo
Avocado, sliced or cubed
Lime

Place chicken and marinade in zip top bag and marinade up to 2 hours. Remove chicken from bag and discard unused marinade. Place chicken on baking sheet and bake at 400F for approximately 25 minutes. Cook time will vary depending on the type/size of chicken used. When juices run clear, remove from oven and cool slightly so you can shred the chicken.

Warm the tortillas and beans.

You can either make all the tacos yourself or let everyone make their own. We’re a “make your own” family!

Variation:
I don’t always use the tortillas and instead will make rice and create a ‘taco bowl’ layering the ingredients more like a casserole.

You can make these however you wish and add any ingredients your family likes for tacos or burritos. Get creative!

This is just one way to use the Smokin’ Chipotle Marinade from Tavern Direct.

How do you think you’d use it?

To learn more about Tavern Direct and its mission to support children, read about Lou Bivona. I support Tavern Direct and the programs at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children because I believe that we are the village.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary bottle of Smokin’ Chipotle from Tavern Direct. All opinions are my own. No affiliate links are used in this post.

Sara

Totsy Review and Gorgeous Amy Kathryn Bag Giveaway [CLOSED]

I love a great deal, as you can probably imagine. And I know you love a great deal too. But now that BabyGirl is now into that tween part of her life I’ve felt that many of the online deal sites were leaving me behind. I don’t have a baby, I’m not pregnant and I don’t wear high-fashion clothing.

So when Totsy approached me to try their site I was a bit skeptical, afterall it has the word ‘tot’ in the name. But I was assured that although the site may be geard toward moms with younger kids that Totsy does have things I’d really want too. OK, I’ll try!

  • Totsy is an online private-sale site dedicated to offering apparel, gear, accessories and more for moms, kids and families. You get invited by a friend and then you set up your account. It’s not some secret society and you won’t get 800 emails a day or anything like that.
  • Up to 90% off merchandise on top-name brands. Yes, indeed! Huge savings! I’ve order BabyGirl some shoes and outfits for the Fall at about 60% off retail. Not the 90% that some of the deals have, but a significant savings nonetheless. I’ve yet to find something for myself, but then again, I have that shopping issue (see above!)
  • Totsy employs sustainable “green” business practices. Totsy plants a tree in honor of your child when you make your first purchase and so far, they have planted over 25,000 trees in Peru! It may not seem like much, but I want to suppor companies that are at least trying to be good environmental citizens while saving me a few bucks.
  • You get Totsy credits for free when you invite your friends to join! When your friend receives their first purchase, you will receive $15 in Totsy credits. That’s pretty great, isn’t it?

Now for the Giveaway!

Win a beautiful Amy Kathryn Geranium Hobo Bag (retail value $100)!

Totsy has offered to give one of my readers this lovely handbag. Being that this is Year of Awesome 2.0 I wanted to share something with you that you’d truly think was, well, Awesome! Perfect for any time of the year, this top-zip bag is both practical and stylish.

How To Enter:

1. MANDATORY: Leave a comment below telling me how truly Awesome you are! Yes, it’s that easy to enter! I know you’re awesome but I want you to tell the whole world!

 

Extra Entries:

2. Follow Saving For Someday on The Twitters

3. Follow Totsy on The Twitters

4. Like Saving For Someday (or if you already do just leave a comment)

5. Like Totsy (or if you already do just leave a comment)

6. Sign up for your own Totsy account

 

Rules: Open to US Residents age 18 or over at time of entry. This promotion begin 7/8/2011 and will end at 11:59 pm PST 7/14/2011. Mandatory entry is required for Extra Entries to be valid. Item will be shipped directly to winner from Totsy and may take up to 4 weeks for delivery. I am not responsible for loss or damage to the item. Winner is responsible for any taxes.

Disclosure: I received compensation for my purchase to complete this post. It did not cover the full cost nor did it influence the opinion expressed herein. This post contains my personal views and was not edited or modified by a third party. There are no affiliate links in this post. You are not required to sign up for Totsy. But if you do sign up, I don’t get anything.

Sara

Cube Dog iPhone App Review

Summer is under way so we’re up and at ’em very early. Swim team practices starts at 7:30am and that means mom’s not really in the mood for a big conversation for the short drive to the pool. So when the Clever Girls asked me to review this new app called Cube Dog I figured BabyGirl would have time to try it out to and from the pool for a couple of days.

I gave the phone to BabyGirl and had her search for the Cube Dog App and download it. I do have a MiFi I carry with me so she was downloaded and creating before we got to the corner! In a matter of a few minutes I was informed that her virtual dog was pink (big surprise!) and it’s name was Bubble Gum. No need for mom to help! Shortly after that all I hear is laughter and excitement coming from the back seat.

By time we got to the pool, BabyGirl had created several virtual 3D dogs, which are now appeasing her need to ask me every hour if we can have a real dog. Bubble Gum is pink and she has since created about 4 or 5 additional Cube Dogs to see all the features. Her only disappointment is that within a few hours she wanted to buy the add-on additional features and I said no. I wanted her to try out all the features. And she figured out quite a few.

So far I’ve received about 15 emails of Bubble Gum doing silly things around the house. This is because within the app BabyGirl was able to take a ‘screen cap’/photo and save it to the phone and then email it to me. Lucky me! So now I have several pictures of a crazy pink Cube Dog playing sports, sticking out its tongue, dancing, being a ninja as well as trying to hide.

Here’s a little video introduction. Overall it’s a great FREE app and kids and adults alike will enjoy creating and playing with their Cube Dog. My only disappointment was that within the first few hours of playing with the app BabyGirl wanted to buy the add-ons, saying she was bored.

 

To use the app you need an iPhone4, iPhone3GS, iPod Touch 3G, iPod Touch 4G and all need to have iOS 4.0 or higher running on the device.

From June 13 – 17, Cube Dog will be running a promotion on the Cube Dog page. So head over and Like the Cube Dog Page now and be ready to learn about the promotion as soon as it launches!

Get started today and download the free Cube Dog app from iTune to begin creating your virtual 3D dog.

Disclosure: While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Sara

Insurance For Your Electronics, Peace Of Mind For You

Get a SquareTrade Warranty

This weekend a friend of mine dropped her iPad2 and shattered the glass and the LCD under it. Her $600+ device now needs over $300 worth of repairs. She was in tears. I know how she feels. About a year ago I thought I put my iPhone on the counter top but I missed it by about 3 inches and instead I watched as it hit the ground and shattered. No amount of convincing myself that I had a screen protector so it will hold the shattered glass in place worked. I had to replace it. And I didn’t have any warranty.

For my last several laptops I purchased a warranty from SquareTrade. When I got my iPad, I immediately got online and ordered up a SquareTrade warranty rather than buying one from Apple. Like most insurance you hope never to need it. But with the reality being that these fancy pieces of technology are often quite delicate, it only makes sense to get some type of protection.

Like I said, I use SquareTrade and their prices are very competitive AND they usually offer better coverage than any warranty or care plan offered through the various tech manufacturers. If you’ve purchased anything in the past month or so that might need coverage, definitely check out SquareTrade. For graduation or Father’s Day, any gift of tech should come with a SquareTrade warranty!

Disclosure: The links contained in this post are affiliate links. By clicking on the link and making a purchase I may get a small commission as a way to thank me for sharing one of my favorite products. I actually use SquareTrade and think they’re great!

Sara

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2 Movie poster image

On Saturday, I took BabyGirl to see a screening of Kung Fu Panda 2, in Real 3D. We had seen Kung Fu Panda in IMAX when it came out in 2008 and it was just an adorable movie with a terrific message. As a parent you can only say that good will win over evil so many times. Kids seem to relate to the cuddly images on screen and get the message loud and clear.

Dreamworks hit it out of the park, again, with Kung Fun Panda 2. Reprising their original roles, the Furious Five and Po, returned to voice their respective characters, keeping their personalities, quirks and humor. Although there was a lot more action in this movie, we still got to experience the best of each of the characters. There wasn’t as much time devoted to them individually, as with the first movie, but enough to keep us engaged. This time around, Po’s dad, the goose Mr. Ping, had some of the best lines in the movie!

Seeing it in 3D was interesting. I don’t think it added all that much to the movie. I’d much rather see it in IMAX and forego the 3D. There wasn’t all that much that made me feel part of the movie. Sure, there were some ooooh and ahhh moments when things would come out at the audience. But for the most part, had they not the movie would have been just the same.

This time around, the story focuses on Po, who is now a Kung Fu master, needing to save the Valley of Peace from the evil White Peacock Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman). A majority of the movie focused on Lord Shen and his issues and plan of destruction. Po has one brief interaction with Master Shifu and is told about inner peace. It was all of about 2 minutes. And from that brief discussion we’re to understand that only if Po can find inner peace will he be able to save his people. I think the movie really could have spent more time on that with some fun exchanges with Po, the Furious Five and Master Shifu.

Instead, we are given more destruction, darkness and Lord Shen, who is just plain evil. Unlike the last movie that was colorful and full of laughter and jokes, this sequel is much darker. The message is the same, that good will triumph over evil, but how the story is told is much different.

Overall, it’s a rather predictable movie. The 3D doesn’t add very much, although the traditional Chinese landscapes take advantage of the dimensional aspect of the film. If you or the kids haven’t seen or don’t remember Kung Fu Panda, not to worry. It’s not imperative to have seen the prior movie.

Kung Fu Panda 2 opens in theaters across the nation on May 26, 2011. I’m certain it will be the number one movie its opening weekend. It is a fun movie. BabyGirl laughed out loud quite a few times and overall liked the movie very well. It’s a movie that will appeal to kids and parents alike.

 

BabyGirl and I attended the screening as guests of Dreamworks and Klout, and as guests we were provided with access to the movie free of charge and prior to it opening to the public. I was not further compensated nor was I required to write this review. All opinions are mine and my review was not edited by a third party.

Sara