Kung Fu Panda 3: Film Review
Cast: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, JK Simmons, Angelina Jolie
Director: Jennifer Yuh, Jonathan Aibel
Battling both demons external and internal, Po's return in Kung Fu Panda 3 is a frenetic family filled blast of pure cinematic animated joy.
This time around, the Jack Black voiced cuddly panda is on a quest to answer the age old question of "Who am I?" when he is appointed teacher by master Che Fu.
However, his existential crisis is threatened with being derailed when two events occur - the return of his father, voiced with warmth by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, and the arrival of JK Simmons' baddie Kai, a Kratos-like double blade wielding creature from the spirit world who's chi- stealing ways are a remnant of a 500 year old fight with master Ugwe.
So with Po's universe literally and figuratively about to be torn apart, the fight is on - but in true dumb skull panda fashion.
There's a heart and warmth to Kung Fu Panda 3 that's there from the start and leaps out from the screen as it mixes the story with some truly astounding animation, that blends its Eastern influences with ease.
Coupled with Po's trademark loveable dim-wittedness, the film makes great fist of its animation and its mystical trappings to weave together a story that wraps up all the threads and feels as rounded as the bear's belly, filled with dumplings.
While the original gang is sidelined a little by the threat of Kai and Po's heading out on his own, the frenzied pace of the film never stops. In fact, its unrelenting pace at the start grows near wearisome but will be adored by ADHD kids fed on a continual diet of quick cut zaniness as the story moves breakneck speed to where it needs to.
After about 40 minutes, King Fu Panda 3 slows and the result of doing so is welcome (even if some of the emotional heft of a reunion with pops is lacking) as well as visually resounding.
With its message of two fathers being pertinent in this day and age of broken families and its resolve of we can make the difference together, Kung Fu Panda 3 delivers the requisite learnings to its family friendly audience without too much of a lecturing.
Complete with some truly impressive animation that blends greens, yellows and other hues from its palette to its Eastern mythological trappings, Kung Fu Panda 3 shows the franchise is in rude health, and is showing no sign of losing any of the creative resolve or charm of its central character as time goes on.