Kung Fu Panda 2

Those cats were fast as lightning. And so were the monkeys, the snakes and the pandas...

While it never quite matches up to the brilliance of the original, this second animated outing for Po and the Furious Five is a worthy sequel that stands up there with the best of DreamWorks’ animated output.

This time around the plot heads in two (ultimately connected) directions. The first sees our black and white hero Po called upon to defend China from the villainous Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), while the second concerns Po’s search for the truth about his true parents and the hope this will bring him the inner peace he needs.

Picture: Kung Fu Panda was one of the best-looking Blu-ray releases around when it turned up back in 2008. And, while we’ve become much more accustomed to what we should expect from CG animation in hi-def over the intervening years, Kung Fu Panda 2’s Blu-ray still manages to wow.

Framed at approximately 2.35:1, the AVC 1080p encode is quite simply flawless. The nature of the main character means that it’s constantly impressing you with its perfect rendering of each and every hair on Po’s body, while the vibrant colour design gives the image a sense of depth few genuinely 3D presentations can match.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Kung Fu Panda 2’s sonic performance is easily on a par with the disc’s HD visuals. The film serves up a procession of fantastic action scenes, and the disc’s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack brings them to life in style. Whether it’s the escape from the collapsing tower in Chapter 8, Po’s flashback in Chapter 11 or the final showdown with the Lord Shen and his fleet in Chapters 12-14, the mix never fails to creative an involving soundfield full of bold  positional effects and big booming bass.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: This animated treat comes to Blu-ray with a handful of exclusive goodies. These take the form of Animation Inspiration (an interactive map of China that links to nine short videos highlighting locations that inspired the artists and filmmakers), The Animators’ Corner (picture-in-picture animatics, interviews and concept art) and a trivia track.

The remaining features are all shared with the DVD release (although all video material is presented in HD here) and take the form of three deleted scenes, a filmmakers’ commentary, a couple of set-top games, an educational tool that teaches a selection of Mandarin words and phrases, a featurette about the voice cast and another about Giant Panda conservation. Being a Triple Play package, the set also includes a DVD and Digital Copy of the film.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Reference quality AV makes this animated treat a must-buy Blu-ray

Paramount Home Entertainment, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £25 approx, On sale now