Kung Fu Panda 3 – 4 out of 5
The Kung Fu Panda movies are pretty fun animated features. Despite the fact I find them enjoyable, I forgot that a 3rd film came out in 2016. When I recently checked out the Angry Birds films (you can read their reviews here and here or just keep scrolling past this one and you'll find them) I was reminded of this feature. I checked it out and it was just as fun as the other films…and that is to say a lot of fun in case you missed me saying the films are fun.
|Kick! Punch! It's all in the mind!|
|"Po, I am your father."|
Po (Jack Black) quickly learns that teaching isn’t as easy as he thinks it is as Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) retires and passes on the responsibilities of kung fu teaching to him. As the stress bears downs (no pun intended) on him, a mysterious stranger arrives and claims to be Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), Po’s long-lost biological father. Li Shan promises he can take him to a secret panda village where he can learn how to master chi. Meanwhile, a powerful warrior named Kai (J.K. Simmons) has claim the chi of all kung fu masters in the spirit realm and uses the power to return to the mortal realm. Now Po and his friends must stop Kai and return him to the realm of the dead.
|I know he's bad but it's hard to hate a guy with cool green glowing eyes.|
Like the last two films, Kung Fu Panda 3 has this great balance of humor and action. This movie is laugh-out-loud funny and the action is very exciting. And thanks to a very intense antagonist, the action is made even more enthralling. Kai does what every great antagonist does and takes away everything from Po and thereby making Po’s eventual victory all the more sweeter. Also, like the previous films, it is able to work some heart into the story so it isn’t all about kicking butt and making with the ha-ha’s. Due to Po’s biological father returning, the story explores that it isn’t always blood that makes a family and there’s some emotional conflict between Li Shan and Po’s adoptive father Mr. Ping (James Hong). There’s also the exploration of Po becoming the warrior and teacher he was meant to be so, ultimately, the film isn’t shying away from the more emotional aspects of the story and the product did a tremendous job of balancing all these elements into an incredibly well blended smoothie of a story.
|Po's two dads!|
The cast in this film is fantastic. Sadly, much of the returning cast have very limited roles and are kinda pushed into the background slightly but, for what it is worth, they are still doing a great job. Jack Black is always a delight and he once again brings his natural infectious energy to the role of Po. Bryan Cranston brings his immense gravitas to the role of Li Shan but the best in the cast, in my opinion, was J.K. Simmons as Kai. The antagonist is already a pretty great villain for an animated family film but Simmons was able to bring weight to the character and make him feel like he is a bad guy with menace behind him. As an overall product, this cast was fantastic and really gives life to this feature.
|The gang is here...but in a very limited way.|
Visually, the film looks terrific. The animation and design look spot-on to the previous films but also updated with the ever-advancing technology and the visuals really play well when it concerns the chi element of the story and the action. The “camera” of the feature gets right in on the action and creates some very dynamic shots and the chi sequences and the spirit realm all look amazing and colorful.
|J.K. sure makes this character intimidating and I'm not jk'ing about that.|
(Am I cool now, today's youth?)
Kung Fu Panda 3 hits all the notes and beats that a sequel in this franchise needs to hit. The animation looks great, the action is fantastic, the story has a perfect blend of heart and humor to it and the cast is awesome. The film also exists as a sequel that is continuing to evolve the characters and give them new adventures so it never feels like you are seeing the same thing all over again. Overall, I found this one very fun and entertaining.