Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) Review

Lets cut the chitty chat chat chat and get right into this awesome and visually striking film that is a delight for kids and adults alike.

It’s always encouraging to see filmmakers truly build on a successful original movie — and take its sequels to fresh and new dimensions.

Directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and her team accomplished that in “Kung Fu Panda 2,” and I’m happy to report they have exceeded that accomplishment in “Kung Fu Panda 3.”

This new outing not only gives us engaging visual treats and the kind of sophisticated animation we’ve come to expect from the artists at DreamWorks Animation, but big kudos go out to screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, as well as Yuh Nelson and her co-director, Alessandro Carloni, who collaborated to deliver a terrific, well-paced storyline for Po and his delightful companions.

As Po moves on from student to teacher in the ways of the ancient martial arts, he also is swept up in quite the adventure. His long-lost father Li suddenly appears (lovingly voiced by Bryan Cranston), and he must face off against a mythical, supernatural menace in the form of the scary yak Kai (J.K. Simmons), who is stealing kung fu masters’ chi all over China – bent on world domination. It is left to Po to train his village of fellow pandas and attempt the impossible — transforming them into a team of Kung Fu Panda warriors.

Along with the return of the terrific Jack Black as Po and his former kung fu compadres Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu), a new voice addition is Kate Hudson as the flamboyant panda ribbon dancer Mei Mei, who adds quite the hilarious touch to this talented assortment.

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As is always great with these animated projects, “Kung Fu Panda 3” works on the dual levels of appealing to young children but also resonating with the adults taking the kids to the movie.

Po is deeply conflicted when his natural father convinces him to travel to the secret mountain village where fellow members of their rare species have retreated — saving themselves from the terrible slaughter of pandas revealed in the last film. That, of course, creates a very adult-like conflict with Po’s adoptive father, the goose Mr. Ping (James Hong), who feels betrayed after all his years of paternal love and attention. That part of the story is well-told, so that even relatively young children will get the message and understand how these kinds of conflicts can also arise in real life.

It’s important to point out, however, in the midst of all the drama and stimulating kung fu fighting and seemingly impossible aerial acrobatics, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is one heck of a very funny movie. The witty zingers and overall humorous dialogue keep pace with the rapidity of the on-screen action, making for a wonderful time in the theater.

I think the secret to the appeal of the entire “Kung Fu Panda” franchise is the enormous affection we feel for Po, that seemingly bumbling good guy who also can rise to the occasion and showcase true heroism and mystical power.

So out of a possible five stars, Kung Fu Panda 3 earns:

✪✪✪✪

Quite simply, its black and white and awesome all over.

What did you think of this film?

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Thank you for reading

 

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