Best Animated Movie – Kung Fu Panda 2
The Kung Fu Panda sequel didn’t exactly have a lot of competition, but it was nonetheless still the best computer-animated flick to hit screens this summer. Po the Panda returned in an adventure that boasted some clever and stylized martial arts action, decent use of 3D, and a surprisingly complex villain in the form of the fowl (sorry) figure known as Lord Shen (voiced by the always engaging Gary Oldman).
Where Kung Fu Panda 2 fell flat was in the area of story, not being able to fully realize its predecessor’s mix of genuine Asian philosophy with a more standard kid-friendly plot about an outsider discovering the inner strength he never knew he had. It was still a good movie overall and has been more than successful enough in theaters worldwide to ensure that Kung Fu Panda 3 (which the sequel directly set up, with its ending) should be arriving in the future.
Most Disappointing Animated Movie – Cars 2
The original Cars remains one of Pixar’s least-liked films, so it’d be a stretch (if not a flat-out lie) to claim that there was a ton of excitement for the followup. That the trailers basically indicated Cars 2 could be re-titled The Obnoxiously Wacky Adventures of Mater left many an adult rolling their eyes. Why exactly then should Cars 2 be considered a disappointment?
Simple answer: It’s still a Pixar movie, a label that is generally synonymous with quality.
Cars 2 featured some truly stunning animation, but ultimately proved to be a pretty lackluster trip (pun intended). There was plenty of kid-friendly humor to go around in the sequel, but not enough in the way of interesting storytelling and truly memorable characters. Even most Cars defenders has admitted that its followup lacks the heart and simple-but-solid morals of the original.
On the plus side – Pixar’s next production, Brave, looks like a nice return-to-form for the studio. Go originality!