We rejoin our Kung Fu Panda Po (Jack Black), now successfully trained and with the full backing of his heroes the Furious Five (Jolie, Chan, Rogen, Liu, Cross) and Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), who has mastered the concept of inner peace. All of a sudden, Po realises that, what with his dad being a goose (James Hong), he may well be adopted, and has something of an identity crisis. Meanwhile, evil peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) plots to win back the throne he lost as a young peachick and take over all of China while he's at it. Only Po - and the Five - can stop him.
That all-star cast... well, there's not much need for them. Angelina Jolie may have given the press a remarkably stony-faced analysis of her character, but Shen aside, the animals have so little dialogue that the celeb-casting barely seems worth it. Sure, they all pitch in and combine well when there's a battle to be had, but when the kung fu ends there's precious little left. Were the Five to be left at home, Po and Shen could have perhaps explored their similarities and differences, leaving us with something a bit more engaging.
But there's still plenty to like. The animation is quietly pretty, and in some more Eastern-inflected flashback scenes there's a real eye-catching quality. The pace never lets up, and every time there's the slight chance of things getting a bit (ahem) po-faced (sorry), any hint of pomposity is deflated with a sight gag or some sharp dialogue. Po yelling out his Braveheart-esque cries to Shen across the town but his voice just failing to carry is one of many laugh-out-loud moments.
Will there be a Kung Fu Panda 3? Certainly. A totally needless coda here practically confirms it. Have DreamWorks shown enough flair and substance to avoid the problems of diminishing returns that afflicted them with Shrek 3? We're not so sure. In the meantime though, will the kids get on with this? You betcha.