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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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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

The Passion and the Cross Ronald Rolheiser

 
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