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Dreamworks Animation 2011 Preview: 'Kung Fu Panda 2' and More

Kung Fu Panda 2DreamWorks previewed its slate of animated films for 2011 in front an auditorium full of journalists recently at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles. Jeffrey Katzenberg emceed the event, which included a screening of the first half or so of Kung Fu Panda 2 and the first 13 minutes of the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots.

Although both films are far from done (spots had temporary art, color, music, etc.), they are both well on their way to their full blockbuster glory. Kung Fu Panda 2, which was introduced by its director Jennifer Yuh, includes all the original voice cast (Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black, etc.) as well as some new featured players, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gary Oldman as Po's newest rival, the evil white peacock Lord Shen.
 
From what we could see, the movie is chockablock with action sequences, which are sure to look terrific when the 3D is added, and delves into the story of Po's identity (How is it that a panda's father is a goose?). After the film was done, Jack Black got up and demonstrated some kung fu moves of his own (e.g., rolling around on stage in a manner not at all unlike Po the panda) to make sure we understood the proper "awesomeness" of Po's moves.
 
As for Puss in Boots, I'll admit, I've always been a sucker for the Puss character in the Shrek movies, and this little taste has me pretty amped. Puss in Boots is an "epic origin story" in the form of a sort of animated spaghetti western that follows Puss in his pre-Shrek days as he tries to score Jack & Jill's magic beans. DreamWorks brought in the best of the Latin world for this—Antonio Banderas reprising his voice role as Puss, Salma Hayek as Kitty Soft Paws, Guillermo del Toro producing, and even music by the tremendous Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. At least from the opening segment, Puss in Boots looks like it's going to be one of those good animated movies with lots in it for both the kids and the parents in the audience. I've got my paws crossed.
 
Kung Fu Panda 2 kicks of the summer movie season on May 26. Puss in Boots is scheduled to hit theaters on November 4.
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