SKADOOSH! A word that seems to hold no meaning for many was the trademark word for an animated film franchise that’s beloved by many. Kung-Fu Panda is a tale about Po the clumsy, food loving panda who also is a master of martial arts. Over the last eight years, Po and his fellow animal fighters have tackled one overlord after another to save China. And this weekend yet another villain rears it’s anthropomorphic head to face our heroes. However can a third adventure maintain the fun its predecessors have or does it flop like so many sequels?
Kung-Fu Panda’s animation remains as phenomenal as ever, with Po and company zipping about in fluid motion. Both human and animalistic motions are flawlessly blended together to bring our anthropomorphic cast alive and in stunning detail and color. This quality remains even during the fast paced G-rated action scenes of Kung-Fu and comical chaos.
Of course fans of the series know that Po’s main angle is comedy in terms of entertaining our younger audience members. Kung-Fu Panda 3 has plenty of laughable moments as Po’s enthusiasm and clumsiness leads to many situations that filled the audience with high pitched squeals. Running into walls, screaming in overdramatic voices, and goofy, thought cute, faces are the ploys they unleash. Fortunately there are some well-written lines, great delivery, and a few advanced jokes that add a little wit to the mix.
And like any good animated feature, this movie also brings about some emotional moments to grab you into the story. Morals, especially those geared towards finding your self, are integrated into the excitement and add some more depth to Po. Seeing Po reunited with his kind starts pulling the heartstrings, and the interactions with his dad (combined with the powerful musical score) nearly brought tears to my eyes. While some moments are a little on the preachy/cheesy side, the story team did a nice job teaching the lessons that we can all stand to learn.
While all of these animation tactics work to bring the movie the life, it would still be nothing without the voice acting. Jack Black’s goofiness works great with Po and is perfect for the comedy aspect of the film, while also transitioning into a more serious tone when the scene calls for it. The new comers to the series are well received in this movie. Bryan Cranston as Po’s father was a different role for him and interesting to see considering his last few roles were much more intense. J.K. Simmons as the bad guy was a perfect choice as his gruff tone and history of being a stubborn hard head fell right in line with his animal. Our other cast members reprise their roles with the same ferocity and fun they had back in the other films.
In terms of what could be improved in this movie there were a few things I would have liked to see. First is that the opening segment was a bit rushed, the rise of the master villain happening much faster than I expected. As a result the training and morals of Po were also a little hasty in development and lacked the same emotional punch of the first two. I felt they also put the other animals in the background again with only Tigress really getting the screen time worthy of billing. Comedy wise some of the ploys did get old after a bit, some of the new jokes getting overused like so many memes in the Internet generation. The action I didn’t think was as good as Kung Fu Panda 2, especially when it turns into the grandiose display of color than actual martial arts prowess.
Overall Kung-Fu Panda 3 is another notch on the belt of awesome goodness in Dreamworks productions. It is fun, funny, and maintains the fun story elements that we fell in love with all those years ago. For a third installment this is one of the better ones I have seen, and is a strong start to the family movie genre in 2016. I strongly encourage everyone to take a trip to the theater for this adventure.
My scores for Kung Fu Panda 3 are:
Movie Overall: 8.0