Kung Fu Panda 2 - David Cross, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu
Kung Fu Panda 2 - Crane (David Cross), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Po (Jack Black), Mantis (Seth Rogen) Monkey (Jackie Chan) and Viper (Lucy Liu) ©2011 Dreamworks
Puss in Boots - Poster
Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) © 2011 DreamWorks

The press was invited by DreamWorks to the Director’s Guild for a sneak peek at two of their most anticipated releases this year, Kung Fu Panda 2, which opens on May 26th, and Puss In Boots, which premieres on November 4th.

We were greeted by DreamWorks CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who spoke of the growing popularity and complexity of animated features. “Every year all of us I think wonder what will come next in the world of CG animation? We keep raising the bar higher and higher, the tools and technology just keeps empowering our artists more to be doing incredible things, creating more complex [motion pictures]. I hope that will be very clear today with both movies. I think they are, at least to our eyes, yet another quantum leap from what we were doing less than a year ago.”

Kung Fu Panda 2 - Po on the poster
Kung Fu Panda 2 – Po on the poster © 2011 Dreamworks

First up was Kung Fu Panda 2. We were treated to the first half of the movie, with some temp drawings filling in for missing footage.

Now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, Po and his fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five, must face a new enemy, Lord Shen, a peacock voiced at his evil best by Gary Oldman.

The animation is breathtaking and the adventure moves along at quite a pace. Just as Po and his friends are falling to certain death from a Pagoda, the footage ended, to cries from the audience. But never fear- Jack Black came on stage to tell us the five most important things about the rest of the movie!

He said:

  1. When the Pagoda was collapsing, and they are falling to their certain demise, the first thing you learn as a Kung Fu master is how to survive an enormous fall. If I were to fall [off of this stage], I would go into a mini Tiger role, tuck and swirl, no problem with survival!
  2. Peacock versus panda, extremely funny in 3D. The peacock while being out of my weight class has so many evil tricks up his sleeve, voiced by the incredible Gary Oldman, my favorite evil actor of all time. He’s played my favorite villains and this one is no exception. Our final battle in the end is one for the ages and I can’t wait for you to see that.
  3. Po’s Kung Fu moves are way more awesome than they were in the first movie. You probably noticed that he did become more kick-butt in his moves, as you would expect now that he is the Dragon Warrior. He has refined his moves, his skills, together with the Furious Five they work in beautiful synchronization, although he’s still pretty much a clumsy child in many ways. That’s the magical dynamic of Po I think. On the one hand he’s the most fierce, awesome warrior, and on the other hand, he’s a clumsy, silly buffoon. And in many ways I’ve tried to model my life after my character.
  4. Po discovers his roots, but there is more to the story than he even knows. As you can see, we’re dealing a lot with his origins, who his real parents are, and it’s one of the great things about the movie, the powerful emotional wallop that it delivers in the end, I was crying (he faked tears).
  5. It’s the most awesome movie of all time!
Puss in Boots - Poster
Puss in Boots – Puss on the Poster © 2011 Dreamworks

Jeffrey Katzenberg returned to introduce Guillermo Del Toro, who is the Executive Producer of Puss In Boots.

“Animation for many years was treated as a genre for kids,” Del Toro admitted, “and it’s really a medium that allows filmic expression unlike any other medium we know. Being a complete control freak of the form, I wanted to be part of this medium, I wanted to join and learn and I’m learning so much.”

The movie’s director, Chris Miller, came on stage to introduce the first fifteen minutes of Puss In Boots, giving us a thumbnail synopsis of the feature.

“This is the tale of Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and it’s an epic origin story, before he knew Shrek and Fiona or Donkey. It chronicles his life as a little kitten right up until the moment he earns his status as the legendary Puss In Boots.”

In the film, the furry feline hero goes on a swashbuckling ride, as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and the street-savvy Kitty (Salma Hayek) to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

One of the scenes we got to see was Puss and Kitty’s first encounter, which turns into a fight/dance that was extremely funny.

To round off the event, Antonio Banderas came on stage to express what this role has meant to him. “Once upon a time, which was about eight years ago, Jeffrey Katzenberg gave me one of the best gifts I’d ever received. It was a little cat, who is now a movie star!

“I’ve had so much fun with this cat over the years. His story is very similar to my story. He came to Hollywood, sneaking is as a supporting character and now (he’s a star) Today I have a session and I can’t wait to go to DreamWorks. I feel I’m going to find a friend. Puss still surprises me.”

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.