1. Kung Fu Panda 2 (Paramount, 3,925 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated PG): I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the first Kung Fu Panda. It was a funny story within the martial arts genre without ever mocking the style, the characters were a step above just being carbon copies of the voice actors, and message behind the film–have faith in yourself and you can to great things–was a nice one to portray.
Whether or not it needed a sequel is another thing entirely. The story can lend itself to a number of sequels–there are always bad guys for martial arts masters to fight. But if they try to recapture the “underdog makes good through determination” thing again, it will seem like backsliding.
So, The Hangover was a surprise success that built its grosses on the buzz it created. That was kind of like catching lightning in a bottle, but since it was a money maker for all parties involved, it is only natural that they would try to recapture that lightning once again.
The plot is essentially the same. Three groomsmen must look for a missing member after a bachelor party gone wrong. Only this time it’s Ed Helms character getting married, the bachelor party is in Bangkok, and it’s the bride’s brother who is missing.
Raising the stakes might be a good thing, but sticking with essentially the same formula might not be. It be interesting to see if more than just the location is fresh and new this time around.