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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Kung Fu Panda 2

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service


Characters seen in Dreamworks' animated movie "Kung Fu Panda 2."
The summer movie season for kids begins with the lackluster animated sequel "Kung Fu Panda 2" (DreamWorks).

Perfunctory if unobjectionable, this follow-up to 2008's hit about a rotund bear with martial-arts prowess moves at a brisk pace. Adults have that to be thankful for, along with the absence of inappropriate material.

When we meet up again with the goofy, perpetually hungry Dragon Warrior Po (voiced by Jack Black), he's firmly established as protector of the Valley of Peace, yet curious about his identity. It's finally dawned on the lovable oaf that Mr. Ping (James Hong), a goose, is probably not his natural father.

This desire to learn about his origins coincides with the rise of the power-hungry peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman). Armed with a new class of mechanized weaponry, Shen seeks to conquer all of ancient China. But a soothsaying goat (Michelle Yeoh) predicts he'll be thwarted by a practitioner of kung fu with whom he has a history.

Indeed, flashbacks to Po's earliest days reveal Shen was responsible for the death of his parents during a raid on their village. With Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) counseling him to strive for inner peace, Po and the Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan) set out to derail Shen's evil plan.

Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson oversees by-the-numbers visuals, available in 3-D, while imparting an anodyne message concerning the necessity of moving beyond the past and focusing on the present.

The emphasis on pratfalls and breezy jokes will prevent wandering attention spans, but at a price. What felt relatively original and distinguished by fresh aplomb three years ago now seems to lack both flair and substance. Of course that's never stopped the studios. Judging by the ending of "Kung Fu Panda 2," part three is in the offing.

The film contains mild fantasy violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Gregory VII: The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII. 
<p>Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself. </p><p>Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots. </p><p>Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.</p> American Catholic Blog In Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was taken to God. Christ opened the path to us. If we entrust our life to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior.

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