Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Tree of Life

CAST: Brad Pitt, Hunter McCracken, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Joanna Going, Fiona Shaw, Jackson Hurst, Pell James, Crystal Mantecon, Lisa Marie Newmyer, Jennifer Sipes; DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick; WRITER: Terrence Malick; GENRE: Drama; RUNNING TIME: 138 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance.

Young boy Jack O’Brien (Hunter McCracken) grows up with two brothers in Waco, Texas, in the 50s, with a disciplinarian father (Brad Pitt) and a forgiving mother (Jessica Chastain).  He wants to be a good son, and he is, but time comes when he feels he cannot be anymore.  He is confused, torn between his love for his parents and his ever growing need to assert himself and defy them.  He begins to resent his father, and to scoff at his mother for her inability to stand up to her husband.  He gets angry with himself as he slowly sees he is becoming everything he ought not to be.   In the middle of all that Jack begins to feel incomprehensible stirrings within himself but circumstances would pressure him into silence about them.  He perceives power in his father, in many things around him, and in himself; fascinated by power he wants to test the limits of his own.  His bottled up anger makes him contemplate dangerous moves—including killing his father.  On the brink of adolescence Jack is unaware that he is treading a crack in the earth that separates the innocence of his boyhood from the expediency of manhood.

The Tree of Life opens with hazy, fiery movements, like mesmerizing gaseous forms dancing against a dark infinity.  A man’s voice tells us there are two ways to go through life, “the way of nature, or the way of grace.”  From that alone the viewer can tell this is not going to be a popcorn movie.  It is not even a movie, an art film, or an Oscar contender.  It is a meditation on human existence—inspired, not just crafted.  Even if it were the only work one has seen of director Terrence Malick, it would say enough for one to gauge the extent of Malick’s genius in his chosen medium.  He has control over the story and the script, he is in harmony with his cinematographer, and he coaxes the best out of his actors.  He is brilliant at utilizing music to rub in his message—Smetana’s Die Moldau, for one, evokes the ephemeral quality of existence, and when heard as one watches a silk lingerie being carried by the current down a river, spawns an experience that has to be felt in the guts to be understood.   That is but a few seconds long; imagine the whole opus.   The Tree of Life has the power to captivate your senses and your mind all at once, to take you out of yourself to be willingly lost and yet alive in some unknown space.  In one word: stunning.

 Some films are just too sublime to be fairly judged.  The Tree of Life is one of them.  It is just too beautiful for words.  With images it tries to grasp all of existence by finding the meaning and deciphering the mysteries of a few puny lives.  Where have we come from?  Where are we going?  Such humbling questions.   The answers may vary from viewer to viewer, but perhaps not all viewers would care.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Lantern

CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, Blake Lively; DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell; WRITERS: Michael J. Green, Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, John Broome, Gil Kane, Mart Nobell, Bill; GENRE: Action/Adventure, SciFi/Fantasy; RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 3.25
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 14 and above.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a happy-go-lucky test pilot who is temporarily suspended for compromising one of his missions. However, his life changes when he is chosen to take over Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), one of the 3,600 intergalactic police force guarding the universe. The Green Lanterns Corps, derive their strength and supernatural abilities from their willpower which transmits to their ring to transform images from their mind into reality.  The other Green Lanterns doubt Hal’s potentials as he belongs to a weak and naïve species compared to the rest of them. Hal’s worthiness as a Green Lantern is put to test as he defends earth and battles the Parallax, a former guardian who desired to control FEAR until he became consumed by its essence resulting to his banishment.

For non- Justice League fans, the back story of Green Lantern provides an interesting insight to another super hero’s making. It is comforting to know that ordinary people with their extraordinary character, and not some inborn powers or mutant abilities, are chosen to become a hero. Hal’s motivation and inner conflicts are rather vague. In fact, Howard’s story (the antagonist) is better defined. As far as storyline, the movie is clean and clear but too technically close to the comic book version that it bordered on being dull. The pace picks up towards the 2nd half of the film and from then on becomes no more than just action and special effects. The attempt at drama and character motivation becomes lame and corny. Performances are acceptable but not great as the roles do not require a lot of effort. Undoubtedly, the movie is a visual feast with its stimulating CGIs, tight pacing and great artistic direction. But then again, it is too literal a translation from the comic books into the big screen that you feel you haven’t gained anything from the illustrated versus live action.

What makes a hero a hero? Almost every movie about the history of a superhero shows us how ordinary people are transformed into superheroes not by physical abilities or supernatural power but by their character that makes them worthy to receive the special gifts that will make them SUPERs. We also see how one with great powers is also given great responsibilities. And lastly, we see that although some are heroes by fate, it also requires them to be heroes by CHOICE. All these elements are present in GREEN LANTERN and we are once more reminded we can all be a superhero if in our hearts we desire to serve and place the common good above our personal interests.

Another valuable point raised in the film is the power of the WILL, especially against FEAR. When will is focused on putting every ounce of strength to protect the weak, on using every natural ability to glorify the good and on creating harmony and peace every one’s passion, then FEAR become irrelevant and  conquerable.

The movie is suitable for the entire family although some action scenes and sexual innuendos need parental guidance for the younger audiences.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

CAST: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Curtis Shumaker; DIRECTOR: Mark Waters; WRITERS: Sean Anders, John Morris; GENRE: Comedy; RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance.

 Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) is an adroit dealer on architecture and real estate who receives six penguins as a gift.  Divorced from his wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) and living alone in a swank New York apartment, he considers the creatures pests, not pets, and decides to donate them to the local zoo.  But before he can make arrangements for the penguins to be hauled out, his children, teener Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton), on one weekend visit, fall in love with the birds in his flat.  Thinking the penguins are Mr. Popper’s surprise gift to their son celebrating his birthday, his whole family is most touched.  Mr. Popper does not have the heart to disappoint his children, especially as the penguins’ presence endears him to his family, so he decides to keep the birds in his apartment, turning the place into a perpetual winter wonderland in an effort to simulate the penguins’ natural habitat while providing weekend fun for his children.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is based on the time-honored children’s classic novel by Richard and Florence Atwater about a boy (Popper Jr.) whose explorer-father made up for his absence (especially at the boy’s birthday celebrations) with gifts and souvenirs from all over the globe.  The story combines fantasy and heart, and is anything but frivolous, thanks to the spot-on casting that makes for credible characters with real life feelings.  It is a mellowed Carrey that the Mr. Popper character calls for and projects quite successfully; thus Carrey fans may be disappointed to see very little of the usual antics of the rubbery-faced comedian but they may be delighted to find that the actor can actually deliver convincing drama, too, without being fake or syrupy about it.  Perhaps Carrey was actually spurred to real acting by working with real Gentoo penguins which the movie reportedly used, drastically cutting down dependence on CGI.  It is hard to tell when the penguins are computer-generated or are displaying good training, something that should be credited to director Mark Waters and, of course, to seamless editing.  Noteworthy of close watch is that part where Mr. Popper and his children keep vigil to watch the penguin eggs hatch.

Although Mr. Popper’s Penguins is aimed at children, its message is for adults as well, particularly parents having difficulty coping with family situations.  The Carrey character—the young Popper father—unwittingly risks becoming exactly like his explorer father by his preoccupation with his career, which, in fact, has cost him his wife and family.  The arrival of the penguins—which Mr. Popper actually inherits from his globe-trotting father—is a grace that enables the dead man to make up for lost time and to help towards making his divorced son see what matters most in life.  It augurs well for modern society that the book published in 1938 and presumably upholding family values in that era has reentered the scene as a film after 73 years, refocusing the limelight on those same values that present day families want and need to revive.  CINEMA recommends Mr. Popper’s Penguins for 97 minutes of family fun and profit.  Perhaps then you would wish for a Mr. Popper’s Penguins II to see what eventually happens to the baby penguins, at least.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CAST: KC Conception (Raffy Slavador), Sam Milby (Eugene Servero), Matet de Leon, Robi da Rosa; DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina; PRODUCER:  Charo Santos; DISTRIBUTOR: Star Cinema; GENRE:  Drama/Adverture/Romance; LOCATION:  Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon,  Lanao del Norte; RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers of all ages.

SYNOPSIS: The story is about a man who pushes himself to the limits, a man who is always up for the challenge. He is proud. He only lives for himself. He then meets a woman one day, a woman who is more cautious in life, a woman who teaches him to embrace and appreciate life, love and all its smallest blessings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


CAST: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Angus Sampson, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor; DIRECTOR: James Wan; SCREENPLAY:  Leigh Wannel; LOCATION: US; GENRE: Horror; RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 13 and below with parental guidance.

The Lamberts have just moved in to their new house. Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) with their three children are just settling in when their eldest son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) suddenly falls into an inexplicable coma. Renai starts to feel and see mysterious beings she suspects to be ghosts and concludes that the house might be haunted so they immediately move out. But then the same strange things happen and seem to have followed them even in their new home so they seek the help of ghost hunters and a psychic who believes that it’s not their house that’t haunted, but it’s their son Dalton.

Insidious lives up to the challenges and expectations of a haunted house theme and horror genre. This time, the film takes on a different take through going beyond a place that is haunted which appears to be logical and believable and at the same time, very frightening. The film barely uses computer graphics in their portrayal of ghosts and demons that makes the scares all the more effective. The ghost-hunting part is a  balancing comic relief and at the same time makes the audience still attune with the “reality feel” of the entire picture. The actors were able to deliver their parts well. Their emotions do not go beyond mere hysterics and the silences and subtleties are enough to scare the audiences even more. This film could be well-remembered through it’s for real “frightentainment”. 

In between screams and scares, Insidious makes a lot of sense when the story deals with family matters and issues. The mysterious coma of Danton, Renai’s paranoia, and Josh’s past are all difficult challenges for the Lamberts yet they tackled these problems head on and they did not succumb into their miseries. Josh’s ultimate sacrifice of risking his life to save his son is commendable. Renai’s dedication as a mother and wife sets a good example for every family. However, the theme of the entire film is problematic. If soul travelling is an ability, there should be a way that such can be used for good and not just a mere habit. If it’s a curse, then proper exorcism should have been done. In dealing with the supernatural, the couple relied on science experts and psychics instead of church exorcists. The film subtly insinuates that the church knows nothing and has nothing to do with anything that is supernatural. Apparently, the film depicts the presence of evil which could well be a concern of the church. Good thing, the ultimate evil in the film is defeated by courage, the willingness to live and love for the family so Insidious is still a worthwhile feature. Spoiler alert: the ending suggests that the battle between good and evil is not yet over. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super 8

CAST: Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich,Gabriel Basso, Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Amanda Michalka; DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams; WRITER: J.J. Abrams; GENRE: SciFi/Fantasy; RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance.

Super 8 begins the day after a tragic accident in a factory killing Joe Lamb’s (Joel Courtney) mother. Apparently, she had to work extended shifts because Louis Dainard (Ron Elard) had been drinking the previous evening and could not report for work. Four months after the funeral, Joe helps his friends finish a zombie movie shot in a Super 8 camera. While doing a scene with Alice, Louis’ daughter, and his longtime crush, the group accidentally witnesses and film a truck derailing a train and causing a massive accident. The group then discovers the truck driver is their Chemistry teacher and is told to never talk about the accident or their parents will be killed. Meanwhile, the Air Force arrive to secure and clean up the disaster, much to the suspicion of Joe’s father Deputy Jackson (Kyle Chandler). During the next few days, the town folks experience mysterious phenomena like dogs running away, car engines and cable wires stolen, fluctuating power and people disappearing.    The Air Force attempt to clean up the town to hide their secret, thus enforcing “Operations Walking Distance”; wherein  a wildfire is deliberately started in the pretense of evacuating the town. But when Alice is abducted by the unknown creature, Charlie and friends brave the military attacks and the danger of the creature on the loose to save her

Super 8 is a masterfully told story. Abrams knows subtlety creates deeper impact. You particularly remember the simple way the camera hovered around the “days since last accident countdown” and how the man quietly replaced 700++ to 1 and cutting to the post funeral scene of Joe’s mom. This choice had more dramatic effect than actually showing the accident and the funeral. The tender moments between Joe and Alice, as well as the playfulness of the boys make audiences sympathize with the characters so much more. The plot unfolds is ways that get you hooked in the story because you just can’t guess what the next scene will be? The storyline development is completely unpredictable but reasonable and logical. The CGI’s were perfectly executed and created tension and excitement while the actors were authentic. Both the script and direction enabled each character to stand out against the mystery and tension of the unknown. Super 8 is an enjoyable and memorable family film.

The movie brings several striking multi-layer messages on friendship, forgiveness, bravery, selflessness and letting go. The friendship between Joe and Charles is so genuine and noble. Joe lives up to his promise to help his friend finish achieve his dream while Charles learns to set aside his personal feelings for Alice to give way to Joe. Jackson and Louis’ strained relationship is a commendable example of learning to forgive. One blamed the other for the tragedies in their lives but in the end, as they joined hands to look for their children, the two fathers realized what he has done and what he needs to do to restore their friendship. Self-sacrifice and bravery are exemplified by characters who brave the dangers of death and pain to save another life – human or alien. Finally, the scene where Joe silently lets go of his mother’s necklaces speaks so loudly of learning to let go of past hurt and pain and move on to a new day. These beautiful messages were intensified by the brilliant screenplay and direction of Abrams.

The movie, though contains scenes of substance abuse, military torture and intense explosion and violence which may be disturbing for the younger audience. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hangover 2

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor, Mason Lee, Jamie Chung, Sasha Barrese, Gillian Vigman, Aroon Seeboonruang, Nirut Sirichanya, Yasmin Lee, Nick Cassavetes, Sondra Currie  Writers: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong  Director: Todd Phillips  Running Time: 102 minutes  Distributor: Warner Bros.

Technical:  3
Moral Assessment:  1.5
CINEMA rating:  R18  (For viewers aged 18 and above)

Phil  (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Stu (Ed Helmes) wake up in a seedy hotel room in Thailand with no memory of the previous night.  What’s worse, they are missing their fourth companion, 16-year-old Teddy (Mason Lee), but find Teddy’s finger sitting in a bowl of ice.  A monkey drops from the ceiling and another person wakes up, but everyone remains clueless about how they all came to be where they are.  What they all know is they must all make it to Stu’s wedding pretty Thai girl Lauren (Jamie chung)—which is the reason they have flown to Thailand in the first place—but how can they appear at the wedding without Teddy, Stu’s future brother in law?  So they embark on a mad search for the missing teenager, encountering gangsters and other gun-toting characters along the way.

Let’s talk about the plot.  If you’ve seen Hangover 1 (2009) you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect from Hangover 2.   Same cake, fluffier, fattier icing.  We resonate with a web reviewer who writes, “Director Todd Phillips seems to have taken the Hangover screenplay and moved it laterally from Las Vegas to Bangkok while retaining the same sequence of scenes: Call to bewildered bride to be, flashback to wedding plans, ill-advised bachelor party, four friends waking up with terminal hangovers in unfamiliar hotel room, ominous signs of debauchery, desperate quest to discover what happened, etc.”  If you were not offended by Hangover 1, you’ll enjoy Hangover 2 as it presents more of the same ingredients rejected by those who found the movie offensive.  But that’s not an absolute—middle of the roaders who saw some redeeming factors in Hangover 1 and therefore laughed along with its raucous humor might, just might, think that Hangover 2 has gone way over the top.  But even if you have not seen Hangover 1, you can either thumbs-up or thumbs-down this one as there’s a story all right, and a screenplay that’s easy to follow. 

If you had a stake in producing Hangover 1, what could possibly motivate you to invest in Hangover 2?  Clue: the 2009 version grossed $485 million, the highest grosser of the year in R-rated comedy.  Its production budget was $30 million.  Those guys must have thought, “If audiences lapped up Hangover 1, why not give them more of the same?”  So they plunked down $35 million on the sequel—do you hear the clinking of the cash registers in the background?  You’re not wrong.  Money is never a mean motivator.  We wonder, though, how this movie will register among Thai viewers—it shows the side of Bangkok that their tourist brochures would probably never even mention.  Hangover 2 is definitely not for impressionable or immature viewers, whatever their age.  In fact, actor Galifianakis (who plays the Alan character), when swamped by children-fans for his Hangover role, reportedly yelled at their parents for letting them see it.  We hope it was a sincere gesture, but then, again, in this gimmick-moved world, that could have been another ploy to get more xxx-hungry adults to go see it.   

Monday, June 6, 2011

X-men: First Class

Lead cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Álex González, Jason Flemyng, Zoë Kravitz, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Caleb Landry Jones, Edi Gathegi, Lucas Till, Demetri Goritsas, Glenn Morshower, Matt Craven, James Remar, Rade Serbedzija, Ray Wise, Michael Ironside, Bill Milner, Morgan Lily, Laurence Belcher, Hugh Jackman. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, based on a story by Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer. Cinematography: John Mathieson. Music: Henry Jackman. Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Running Time: 132 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: V-14 (Viewers 14 years old and above

1944, in a concentration camp established by the Nazis on occupied Polish soil, Erik Lensherr, a boy with metal bending ability witnesses the murder of his mother. Nearly two decades later the boy is to become Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and to team up with professor and CIA advisor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) who is to be known as Professor X. Agent Moira Mac Taggert (Rose Byrne) gives them the task of assembling a collection of mutants to halt the machinations of an ex-Nazi madman, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his superhuman cohorts. A clash of ideals develops between Charles and Erik: Charles believes peace for men and mutants would be attained once the evil Shaw is done away with; Erik believes in the inevitability of violence and a global war. Erik’s motive for joining the war against Shaw is personal: it was Shaw who killed his mother.

X-Men: First Class is an origin story that charts the epic beginning of the X-man saga—what the mutants were before they became superheroes. It can be uplifting to watch superheroes battling with megalomaniacs out to destroy the planet, and it could be pure entertainment seeing the young mutants gather and display their hidden powers to one another, like kindergarteners at a show-and-tell assignment. However, it is rather ambitious of X-men: First Class to interweave real-life history (Nazi in World War II, Cuba showdown in early 60s, etc.) and Marvel comics super-action since the result presents too many elements that only serve to compete against one another for audience focus. The actors embody the characters well enough, although again, perhaps the story could have been more pointed and cohesive with fewer mutants showing off their powers. For example, the character sprouting dragonfly wings is cute to watch but has doubtful essential value in the plot. Same with the guy with oversized feet. As it is, the movie is almost a supermarket of superpowers which distracts the viewer from the real message of the story which is actually meaty.

One lesson worth remembering amidst all that jaw-dropping, eye-popping CGI effects is the need for controlling one’s anger. Whether you’re a man or a mutant, it’s never cool to be controlled by one’s anger. For that and the abovementioned technical superiority as far as effects are concerned, it is certainly worth seeing X-men: First Class.

Friday, June 3, 2011


CAST: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wigg, Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman, Seth Rogen, Sigourney Weaver; DIRECTOR: Greg Mottola; WRITERS: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost; GENRE: Comedy; RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 2.5
Moral Assessment: 2
CINEMA Rating:  For mature viewers 18 years and above.

Make no mistake about it: Paul  is no harmless cartoon for kids.  The language alone can make the proverbial sailor blush, as the alien Paul tells a character, “Cursing is fun; you just have to pick your moments!”  The word “f - - k” is used 50 times, “s - - t” 40 times, and so many other terms you would never want to hear coming out of your children’s mouth.   On top of that the alien Paul smokes marijuana and spurs others to do the same; he’s a beer guzzle and a reckless driver; pushes others to steal to satisfy his whim, pokes fun at Bible-toting Christians, and has a yen for making obscene gestures.   CINEMA came across a crisp and incisive critique of the movie by Plugged In Online which we respectfully excerpt and pass on to our readers.     
Paul tells us that advanced civilizations have outgrown the concept of God—at least a Christian God. But here's what I find most interesting about its point of view: In attempting to strip away one religion, we've been given another.

“The popularity of aliens and UFOs in pop culture has been attributed, by some, to folks trying to replace traditional faith with a more scientific form of religion, complete with rewards (knowledge), punishments (probes!) and awe-struck wonder. Consider Paul—his characteristics, not his character: He's a being from another place, a creature filled with unimaginable knowledge and incredible power. He heals the sick, he raises the dead, he helps the blind to see. He holds (the film suggests) the promise of a better world—one full of peace and love and community, free from strife and sin.

“And yet Paul does not appear to everyone. Indeed, he reveals himself only to a select few … disciples. And those to whom he shows himself are often mocked, even persecuted sometimes.

“We meet a woman to whom Paul revealed himself 60 years prior. Now old, she's angry with Paul at first, telling him how the neighbor kids would make fun of her, throw rocks at her window. They would not believe her and her "alien" stories, and in time she had perhaps begun to doubt her own memories. But then she softens. Seeing Paul now, face-to-face, everything's fine again. Her faith—following an unseen, unfelt visitor—is validated.

“If you haven't connected the dots yet, what I'm getting at is Paul's status as a deity. But what a slovenly deity he is: Little more than a "greater" being who, when he gives his friends the sum of all his knowledge, doesn't change them a whit; an advanced entity less concerned with mankind's betterment than with the pot he's carrying and the partying he's planning.”
If you’re looking for laughs plus, there’s Kung Fu Panda; for adventure, there’s Pirates of the Carribean:  Stranger Tides. 

Kung Fu Panda 2

CAST: Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Jack Black, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh; DIRECTOR: Jennifer Yuh; WRITERS: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger; GENRE: Animation, Action/Adventure; RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes.

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers of all ages.

An excellent movie highlighting the courage, team work and familial love.  Po's new life of awesomeness with the Furious Five is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, the peacock Shen, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China. Po also learns he is adopted by Mr. Ping the duck, causing him some degree of depression.  He then feels a grating desire to look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origin.  Only then will Po be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed in straightening out the rebellious peacock.  The animation is elegant, the humor is wholesome, the message worth remembering by young and old alike.  If your children wish to see one last movie before school days come around again, make it Kung Fu Panda 2!