Sunday, June 26, 2011

Random Movie: Strangers Online (2009)

Written by: PBF

Strangers Online is excruciating. Watching it is like watching one of those Cinemax movies that come on at 2am, but actually trying to care for and follow the plot. Yes, this film should be nestled right between Sex Games: Vegas and The Bare Wench Project.

Much like my relationship with this film, Hollis Parker (Noel Palomaria) is trying to forget the memory and stop the nightmares of when his wife was murdered 4 years ago. Currently, he hosts a web show called Strangers Online. Guests call via their web cams for sexual and relationship advice, to show their bodies, or sometimes just to be plain weird. Hollis’s show is quite popular, as is he. Hollis is in therapy, as he is guilt ridden over not being able to protect his wife from being murdered. This is what leads to his nightmares. He lives in seclusion with his girlfriend, Laura (Eva Frajko). A new intern, Karen (Tara Killian) has quite a crush on Hollis, which develops into an unhealthy obsession. Laura also appears to have someone obsessing over her as well, and things just get completely boring from there.

This is just terrible. It is so incredibly boring. The funny thing is, it so boring that when a sex scene occurs, you are kind of jarred. If this were a porno, then the alternating scenes of uselessness and sex would make sense. But since this a terribly lifeless “erotic thriller,” it’s kind of like driving down a long highway staring at miles of trees, then seeing a field of cows. You get all excited at first because it’s not trees, but then you are like, “Ah who cares, it’s just cows.”

The audio was quite inconsistent. A lot of times you can’t hear the actors, sometimes you can hear them very well. You can always hear the terrible music, however.

This film is also a liar by way of its categorization. It is nether erotic nor thrilling. It just kind of sits there and presents random scenes of little to no interest, much like a screen saver that is a slideshow of someone else’s photo album.

There really is not much to say about this film. It’s not funny, not suspenseful, not erotic, not thought provoking and it does not contribute anything to American Cinema. So, there you go. It’s crap.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Random Movie: Bloodlust Zombies (2011)

Written by: PBF

In yet another porn to mainstream transition, adult film star Alexis Texas stars in Bloodlust Zombies. This film is sort of a piss poor combination of Office Space and Zombieland. And porno. It arrives on DVD on July 5th.

So there is this office building. In the building there is a lab where some kind of chemical is being developed and tested. At the beginning of the film, all we know about it is that it seems to make house cats insane. The boss and Andrea (Texas) are having sex when they accidentally tun the office intercom system on. The entire building can hear the fornication and react by laughing and/or mimicking sexual positions. Why, even the serious minded lab workers join in the fun and accidentally cause a spill. Someone gets bitten by an insane house cat test subject and BAM! There’s your outbreak. So, to be more factual, these would be blood lust infected, not zombies. It is later explained that the chemical was actually designed to be used in wars as a biochemical weapon. The intent was to administer it to our enemies, and they would become infected and kill each other. As a result of the spill, the building immediately goes on lock down; electronic door locks do not work, main power goes out. This goes on for a 25 minute period. During this 25 minutes, the nerdy scientist office workers turn into some kind of zombie dispatching commando unit, hurling bullets and bad jokes all over the place.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Hey. I like Office Space. I like Zombieland. I like porno. Surely the melding of these concepts would go together like a delicious sub sandwich that was just invented in a test kitchen.” Fucking incorrect.

There just isn’t much in this film that is very good. Not even the nudity is enough to make anyone care. The acting is excruciating. The comedy is not funny. The effects are weak at best. I didn’t care about one person in this thing, so it didn’t matter who lived or died. There is a security guard who is apparently related to Dante Hicks as he keeps repeating how he isn’t supposed to be there today. Even the music gets tired and annoying. There is a hand print on my forehead as I pretty much spent the entire film watching it with my head in my hand.

The one (and I mean one) thing that I liked was the idea of the zombie (infected) apocalypse being confined to one place where no one could escape. But all the boring bad comedians I had to deal with completely ruined that.

As you well know, we here at Movie Scum embrace the indie movie. There are some great pictures that were made on the flimsiest of budgets. You should run from this film. Run like it’s the infected.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Random Movie: Dawning (2009)

Do you know what most low-budget independent movies lack? Well, a lot of things normally. A decent script, competent direction, halfway tolerable actors, and so much more are typically absent in some of the lowest of low budget movies I’ve suffered through. Do you know what this movie lacks? A few dollars and a big studio behind it. Otherwise, Dawning is an excellent example of how a few talented people with a modicum of cash can make a film that the big budget affairs should strive for.

Apparently, Dawning spent an inordinate amount of time (or perhaps a normal amount for this budget range) in development in different stages, reshoots, and the like. Given the final product, this is no doubt a good thing. This film even perfectly illustrates why I don’t like being around family: it’s awkward. Chris (Jonas Goslow) and Aurora (Najarra Townsend) are trekking out into the middle of nowhere to meet up with their father and stepmother at their cabin. There is certainly a lot of history between these four as the awkwardness stumbles out immediately upon their reunion.

The kids’ father Richard (David Coral) is allegedly a recovering alcoholic who was absent for a length of time. The stepmother Laura (Christine Kellogg-Darrin) comes off as welcoming and cold in the same breath. The tensions between the family are temporarily broken as a beaten and bloodied unnamed man (Daniel Jay Salmen) bursts through the door and takes the family hostage at gun point. He speaks of an “it” that is outside the claustrophobic cabin in a negative tone. Given that he claims “it” killed his girlfriend, he might be justified in that feeling.

As I was watching Dawning, I struggled to think of what it reminded me of. I tend to do this during most movies. There certainly is something familiar about a small group of people stuck in a secluded location as well as an unknown menace whose threat cannot be easily ascertained. However, co-writer and director Gregg Holtgrewe manages to combine those two elements with a bunch of developed characters almost effortlessly. The closest movie I can thing of off hand is Phantoms, and I cannot in good conscious directly compare this movie to Phantoms. I’d feel much better relating it to The Thing.

Holtgrewe has managed what few other directors have in that I was uncomfortable and on edge while watching this film. The last movie to do that was the delightfully creepy Insidious, which is great company for this film. The director crafts an ominous tone early on and barely lets up except to further ratchet up the tension between the family members. This is a movie that is not about cheap jump scares and more about a quiet sense of unease, which in my book is much more effective of the two. Admittedly, I was getting a bit antsy around the halfway point and feared that it might be playing things too safe. The rest of the time more than made up for it with its unpredictability.

Most everything here was professional as well. While the video quality was questionable (I could easily chalk that up to the screener copy), on a technical level everything was great. The editing was snappy, the sound design was quite effective, and I was even taken aback by the lighting which normally is a thorn in modest-budgeted movies like, I dunno … Friday the 13th. With the top-notch script (even though there are some random, unaddressed occurrences) and the quite decent performances from actors you haven’t heard of, Dawning is most certainly a movie worth checking out.

Random Movie: Predator 2 (1990)

Up until today, I cant remember the last time I watched Predator 2 in its entirety. Whenever I see it on TV, on Demand, or on the Jesusflix, I usually catch the first fifteen minutes with arguably one of the greatest action-movie gunfire battles ever. The rest of the movie? Well, lets just say it does not live up to its opening, but surely not for a lack of trying.

Apparently Los Angeles in the late 90s wasn't destined to be a nice place. We can get additional confirmation from watching Demolition Man. But anyways the gangs in L.A. are fierce, the drugs are flowing with ease, and the cops are outmanned and outgunned to do anything about it. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) causes much consternation with his superiors when he goes against orders and enters a downtown building filled with gang members. Fortunately for the police, an unknown party takes out the coked-up rapscallions leaving behind lots of blood, a skinned body, and the fresh scent of Predator-ing.

As Harrigan and his team, including Bill Paxton (!) and Maria Conchita Alonso, investigate the matter, they are pulled off the assignment by the no-nonsense captain as it is under the control of a federal taskforce, including a somewhat subdued Gary Busey and the always welcome Adam Baldwin. The first half of the film then consists of Harrigan being a loose cannon, going against direct orders, and muttering things under his breath. Shockingly, one of those things was not Im getting too old for this shit. In fact, a lot of the movie up until things get all talky could be construed for a lost Lethal Weapon installment, minus Riggs of course, with the Predator substituted for a South African diplomat, a Chinese Triad, or Gary Busey. Huh.

This film gets a bad rap but primarily coming off of McTiernans damn excellent original. I was shocked when watching it again just how violent it was with the gunfights, skinned bodies, and senseless violence galore. Sure, you can tell that much of the more over-the-top gore was excised for the ratings board but a lot made it through. But even with enough violence to shake a parental group at, the film seems almost cobbled together from other action movie staples with a bit of Predator action at the end to justify the title.

Director Stephen Hopkins film basically suffers the same fate as his NOES installment: namely, its interesting and looks pretty but the story doesnt do the rest of it any favors. Especially when the story comes to a screeching halt at the beginning of the final act of the film. Up until that point, the Predator is largely unknown by Harrigan and his crew but leave it to good ol Gary Busey to deliver exposition including a recap of the first film in a manner only he can pull off. The effects however are top-notch but the Predator is shown way too much in the final reel, complete with 80s action movie quips like shit happens. Yep, even the Predators are aware of Forrest Gumps contribution to the human race.

I hear that the AVP films are far worse which is a shame because the reveal at the end of this one could have lead to a bunch of entertaining movies: some random action star battling a Predator in the locale of the filmmakers choice. I feel that this movie tried to be that but was too bogged down in either explicit or subconscious references to other movies of its era.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Random Movie: The Anniversary at Shallow Creek (2010)

Written by: PBF

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek is very reminiscent of other horror films. It’s predictable. It’s formulaic. And yet…I kind of enjoyed it.

College kids and lovers Sam and Paige have decided to take a nice vacation to Sam’s uncle’s house. Unfortunately, Paige’s brother Anthony invites himself and his girlfriend along, and then 2 more kids join. What was mean to be a romantic getaway turns in to a party for 3 girls and 3 guys. The house appears to be located in a desert or a just plain under developed area where the houses are so far apart, you can make as much noise as you want, and no one else will hear you. The name of the place is Shallow Creek, and exactly one year ago to the day, a young couple were murdered in the same area. Will history repeat itself? What the hell do you think? Drunken young people on vacation in a remote location where people have been murdered before? Well, I wont spoil it for you.


So, here’s the thing about this film. You will probably figure out the killer before the halfway point of the film. You may even figure out the “twist.” Yes, the characters make dumb decisions. To be honest, there isn’t really anything new here. But if I restricted myself only to films that were unique and showed me new things, I would probably only be watching Inception, and even that is up for debate.

However, there are some things to enjoy. The deaths are pretty enjoyable and sometimes even startling (right up until the film steals from Saw; in fact, at one point this film becomes a kind of mix of Saw and The Strangers). The effects are pretty decent when someone dies.

The acting is a bit painful until the slaughter begins. Suddenly the ensemble works very well with each other and they deliver their lines much better. I will attribute that to the script being its worst when establishing the little to no characterization or exposition.

So what was it that landed me on the “enjoyed it” side of the fence? There are a lot of low budget films out there. Especially low budget horror films. Comparatively, this one is just fine. It does not look or feel that low budget. This film really used its budget wisely. There is some decent tension. Some of the actors turn in some enjoyable performances. There are a lot worse films you could suffer through. This may not be enough to make it “good,” but it is not unwatchable by any means.

This film is directed by Jon D. Wagner and is written by Eric Fisher and Brianna Lee Johnson. It’s clear that they love horror/killer films, and it is not a bad first effort. If I could provide direct feedback to them: On your next effort, steal less. Homages are fine, but blatant lifts from other films is another thing entirely.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Random Movie: Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

We here at Movie Scum love the Jesusflix. Most of the time, it is truly a blessing. Recently however, I found myself at odds with it upon seeing Speed 2: Cruise Control would be available for instant viewing. Under normal circumstances, I would be able to resist the temptation to watch it as that would mean putting forth effort to either buy or rent it. But, when I saw it was on the Jesusflix, I caved like a trampoline under a fat kid.

I have previously seen this movie a whopping one time in theaters upon its release. After it hit video later that year, I bought a VHS of it from Kmart. It was defective. That was likely divine intervention. Yet, I have always wondered: is it really that bad? Was I just a naive kid at the time like the rest of the IMDb readers who cumulatively rate this movie with a 3.4? Would I be able to wring some enjoyment out of watching it again? The answers to those questions are yes, no, and … well, sort of.

Taking my least favorite method of sequelism, Speed 2 photocopies the same plot from the first film and tweaks it ever so slightly to take place on an out-of-control cruise ship rather than the so 1994 out-of-control bus. The only meaningful returning member from the first, Annie, is dating an L.A.P.D. cop (but not Keanu Reeves!) and attempting to enjoy a relaxing vacation on a cruise liner filled with the fat people, deaf kids, and UB40. Add in a tremendously over-the-top villain with some half-cocked revenge/heist plan and you’ve got … well, a shitty movie.

I doubt I will be able to accurately convey my thoughts on this movie in the standard review format. Let me then requisition PBF’s list of gripes made famous by the G.I. Joe and Final Chapter reviews, but this time as the movie unfolds!

  • Alex’s (Jason Patric) job is apparently to be involved in clich├ęd action movie chases.
  • When did Annie (Sandra Bullock) get ditzy, annoying, and emotional? I guess we can blame Jack for that.
  • Keanu Reeves opted not to come back. Good for him. He gets a nice send-off from the obviously jilted filmmakers.
  • Jan de Bont has apparently embraced the shaky-cam since his last film. That last film was Twister. I can’t decide which is worse.
  • Tim Conway might be here for comedic relief, but it’s not working. I blame Annie for that.
  • Joe Morton (in a cameo role) has apparently decided to really suck at acting after the first.
  • Aw, thanks Random Cop for blowing Alex’s secret career. Annie disapproves.
  • You know what Speed was surely not missing? Stupid, emotional scenes with Annie complaining.
  • They aren’t newlyweds Dante, you terrible, cardboard cut-out of a character!
  • Geiger surely is upset about his golf clubs. The most subdued acting by Willem Dafoe in this movie.
  • Annie is really, truly excited about drugs in the air conditioning or something. I’m not paying attention, I admit.
  • Alex is planning to propose to Annie. Poor man, if I could teleport back in time and into fictional movies, I’d save you.
  • Ah, the upbeat Jamaican band to bring everyone together. Do they get sucked into the propeller soon?
  • Geiger getting ready for the assault with his eels and explosive golf clubs. If not for the fact that he is batshit crazy, Geiger would be a non-entity.
  • Alex knows sign language. How appropriate since there is a deaf girl on board! Action Movie Cliche #11: Young Infirm Child in Danger.
  • This analogy of dining-out to marriage is drawn out uncomfortably long.
  • Did Geiger just use the passcode of 123456 to get into the engine room? Stupid fucking movie.
  • Next day, more emotionally wrought scenes with Annie. Now, she’s complaining about a badge number.
  • Score one cheesy line for Dafoe with “Let’s not split hairs.” How is that applicable unless you are beating someone with a rabbit?
  • The parents of the deaf girl insult her and let her run off. Such loving caregivers.
  • And just as he’s about to propose, the engine blows up. Damn inconvenient plot point.
  • This girl has been in the elevator for about ten minutes. Is this is a skyscraper cruise ship?
  • It is nice that Geiger gives the captain fifteen minutes to evacuate the ship. Of course, we know some group of jackholes will mess that up.
  • A fat guy screaming “Let Me In There!” to a closed door is, surprisingly, not effective.
  • Of course Alex goes off to investigate. And Annie looks annoyed. She’s super supportive!
  • And now action hero Alex goes to save the people he endangered in the first place. What a dream boat!
  • Dante is the most annoying damsel-in-distress of our times.
  • Now Geiger is stealing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that just happened to be on the ship. A heist? So overdone.
  • Temuera Morrison as the captain is actually quite good. His performance does not make me want to vomit, at least.
  • They’ve found out the bad guy is Geiger. Now to go accost him with skeet guns and have a nice talk.
  • Drew (the deaf girl) has some kickin’ shoes. And apparently supergirl strength to be able to effortlessly open an elevator door without power.
  • I sure hope all cruise ships randomly carry around chainsaws to … get rid of any trees blocking the way?
  • Alex finds a way to slow the ship down. Drew is in harm’s way by doing so. It isn’t revisited after she’s safe.
  • “Relationships based on extreme circumstances never work.” It’s a funny recollection of the first. Even funnier since that was not the original line.
  • Stand-off between Alex and Geiger, one holding a guy, the other holding a supermarket scanner. This is riveting.
  • Geiger has the worst motive ever: copper poisoning after working on computers. Umm … I think we’d all be dead if that were true.
  • Dafoe sounds like a loon and looks like a horse when laughing. There you go, Hollywood: the maniacal horse.
  • Alex is such a true action hero. Even smoke inhalation doesn’t faze him!
  • Way to go, Annie! Throwing your arms up and saying “Oh, man!” is quite conducive to avoiding imminent death.
  • When did they throw a wrench in a transmission in the first film? Oh, wait. They didn’t. Stupid movie.
  • I think Geiger has spent the better part of this movie running around the bowels of the ship. I say “better part” because it isn’t as insulting as the rest.
  • Of course Annie is taken hostage. Because otherwise, the filmmakers would have to find other ways for her to annoy the shit out of the audience.
  • Geiger is so mean to Annie! Sure, he’s killed a few people directly and indirectly thus far, but there’s no reason to be such an ass!
  • Hey, that’s the same watch that Keanu had in the first! Have I mentioned that this is the only film to make me yearn for Keanu Reeves?
  • I’ll give it props and say that the effects in this movie are pretty good, even for today’s standards. The writing on the other hand …
  • Like this … the ship is approaching a large, sea-side city at relatively fast speeds. Yet none of the boaters seem to notice until they are mincemeat.
  • Dropping the anchor won’t stop the ship. But, let’s do it anyway!
  • That boat must have been made of dynamite for the explosion it gave!
  • “Seven knots!” Oh great. I forgot about the fucking annoying Scottish navigator who has to announce the speed as it drops.
  • What is this town made of? Cardboard and tissue paper?
  • “Six knots!”
  • The acting in this movie is atrocious. Utterly, mind-numbing, god-awful.
  • “Five knots!”
  • Damn shop owner! Just because a boat is crashing into your city doesn’t mean I don’t want my pumpernickel bread!
  • “Four knots!”
  • Damn boat! You missed the little kid!
  • “Two knots! Almost stopped!” Wait, what happened to three? I hate inconsistency.
  • Oh, it’s a fat guy coming out of 7-11, worried about his car. I bet bad things happen to it.
  • “Zero.”
  • Ha, I could’ve called it even if I hadn’t seen the movie. At least the dog is okay.
  • “We docked! I can’t believe it!” Dante is the most worthless of characters in this most worthless of movies.
  • “Zero.” Okay, dude. We get it!
  • At least the ship is stopped and the passengers are safe, the movie should be over now, right?
  • Fuck, does Annie really have to be rescued? Just let that b-word drown.
  • The return of TUNEMAN. Glenn Plumber should’ve stayed on ER.
  • Hey, dude. Instead of saying “you’ve got to be kidding me” you could just say, “fuck, no, you’re not having my boat.”
  • And, can you tell the balding Mrs. TUNEMAN to shut her trap. It’s annoying. “Look, fireworks!”
  • I’m sure a suction cup the size of my thumb can withhold the weight of a man being drug through the water.
  • I would’ve liked a Dennis Hopper-esque “MY MONEY!!!” when Annie throws the jewelry out.
  • And Geiger flies into the very tanker he tried to crash the cruise ship into. Oh, the ironing!
  • Dafoe must have gotten his teeth enlarged for this role.
  • How does a plane suspended 30 feet above the deck cause the entire tanker to explode? Oh, wait. I’m still watching Speed 2.
  • And now Alex finally gets around to proposing. Hasn’t the entire film dissuaded him from wanting to be around Annie?
  • Oh, thank god! It’s over!
  • Damn! Another driving test! Oh, a humorous callback to the beginning of the film and to the original. Yeah. It’s really over now.
So, in summary: Speed 2 sucks ass. It’s not to the level that would warrant a crap category since it is fairly entertaining. Although, that entertainment is based on admiring the shitty script, horrible acting, and waste of the hundreds of millions this movie probably cost.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random Movie: X-Men: First Class (2011)

The danger about making a prequel to an established series is the basic fact that we know how everything will end. This almost negates any power of surprise the film might otherwise have. But, it is neat in a prequel to see how the stage is set and everything goes down and if the known end point for the characters and the story can be reached in a logical manner. X-Men: First Class pulls this off in spades.

Much like every other comic book series, I have no concept of the X-Men backstory, the character’s origins, or whatnot other than what I’ve seen in the movies. And I’ve only ever seen the first two X-Men films. I am okay with this because not only do I hear Part 3 and Wolverine are garbage, this movie apparently does not regard them as cannon.

In recollection to the first film of the series, First Class begins with a young boy ripped from his parents and yoked into a Nazi concentration camp. A man stands behind a window and watches as this young boy almost rips a metal gate off its hinges and realizes through a dastardly act that his powers are begat by extreme anger. The boy, Erik Lehnsherr would grow up to be Magneto. The man, Sebastian Shaw, becomes our depised villain.

Later in life, Erik (Michael Fassbender) tracks down and almost dies trying to kill Shaw (Kevin Bacon) before Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) intercedes. Charles has been tasked by the CIA and his handler Moira (Rose Byrne) to apprehend Shaw who is doing his best to start World War III. Shaw is a mutant, as are his cohorts, who would like nothing better than to see the extinction of normal human beings under his watch. Charles and Erik join forces along with a barrage of other mutants including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast, and Banshee to stop Shaw and save the world.

Remember how you felt after watching The Dark Knight and thinking that it was one of the greatest movies ever? I know I’m not the only one. Well, First Class is not quite at that level of greatness but surely not for a lack of trying. Most recently known for the uneven Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn is working off a much stronger script which effectively weaves the backstory elements and the current group dynamics with the threat du jour from Shaw. This all takes place with the 1960s tension between the United States and Russia. Did you know that mutants both encouraged and ended the Cuban Missile Crisis? I didn’t see that addressed in Thirteen Days.

Not only are there impressive action sequences and taut pacing, but there is even a generous helping of characterization for some of the bigger members of the story. McAvoy and Fassbender are excellent, not only at recreating sympathetic characters that we already know, but making them different enough also. Neither attempts to outright copy their predecessors but they do take subtle character traits and expand upon them. I quite enjoyed Lawrence as Mystique as well. Again, not considering any bastardizations of the character’s original tale, Mystique was one of the more interesting characters as she befriended Charles at an early age and was very loyal and accommodating to him. However, given the end result, we know Mystique will change sides and the build up to that was solid and did not seem forced at all. Bacon was enjoyable as the villain and not in the hammy sense that being the main established actor would normally bring.

As this seems to be the summer of insipid, 3D superhero movies, X-Men: First Class is surprisingly restrained in that respect. There are no random objects jutting toward the camera, no tremendously off-putting special effects, and the Bay-style hyper-editing has taken a movie off. Even with the retro outfits the X-Men are saddled with, this seems like more of a superhero movie from a lost era of filmmaking, one not seen since the original film that is. Even though Rose Byrne was a very superfluous character to my chagrin, there really is nothing I can harp on this movie for. Good characters plus excellent story plus superb directing usually equals a Chris Nolan movie. In this case, it equals the best superhero movie this year.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Random Movie: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Written by: PBF

Given its competition, Kung Fu Panda 2 is probably the last movie on most people’s list to go and see right now. I sincerely hope not, as Kung Fu Panda 2 is very enjoyable, even better than its predecessor and will entertain adults and children alike.

In the first Kung Fu Panda, we met Po (Jack Black), a panda with a goose (James Hong) for a father and devoted fan of the Furious Five, a group of Kung Fu masters. He defeated Tai Lung and attained the title of Dragon Warrior. In the sequel, China faces a new villain, a peacock named Shen (Gary Oldman). Shen has vowed to destroy Kung Fu and has developed a deadly weapon to help him accomplish this goal. While fighting a pack of wolves stealing metal for the weapon, Po notices a symbol and suddenly has a flashback of his mother. This prompts him to ask his father Mr. Ping where he came from, as clearly he could not have been born of geese. He learns that this is true, but the story he is told does not reveal much more than him being found as a baby panda in a crate in the back of Mr. Ping’s restaurant. Mr. Ping took him in a raised him as his own. Still having many unanswered questions, Po is often distracted in his battles with Shen and his minions. This irritates Tirgess (Angelina Jolie) as she fears this is compromising their mission.

Panda 2 is one of those sequels that somehow vastly improves from the first film. The jokes are funnier, the story is darker and more complex, Jack Black is less Jack Blackier. There is a lot more fighting and action. It just really takes the awesomeness of the first film makes it exponentially better.

As an adult, this film is very satisfying. It is visually quite stunning. The jokes aimed for adults are quite witty. What grown ups will most appreciate is the much darker and deeper story line. It’s just as interesting than any live action film’s plot and ties together very nicely.

Even more impressive is at the same time, every kid in the theater was just as engrossed in the film as I was. It successfully captures the interest of both kids and adult at the same time, rather than alternating captivating one and alienating the other scene after scene.

Even though you kind of know what will ultimately happen in the end and even if it hadn’t ended on a cliffhanger, the film makes you want to see more of this story. The first film did a nice job of introducing us to these characters, and the sequel delves deep in to the character development of Po. In the first film, we know very little about him, other than his fanaticism for the Furious Five and his hilarious ineptitude. This chapter starts telling us who he is and where he came from while simultaneously furthering his relationship with the Five on personal levels. I am very interested to see this progress.

I had a feeling I would enjoy this movie, but my expectations were exceeded. Thoroughly enjoyable and there isn’t anything not to like.