Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

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In this third film of the series, Jack Black returns as the voice of Po, the titular character of Kung Fu Panda 3, distributed by DreamWorks Animation, and directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni, both alumni of previous Kung Fu Panda films. Alongside Po, The Famous 5 — Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu) — return (though the latter two are more or less cameos), alongside Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), the red panda teacher of the warriors. The warriors must band together once again against the threat of new antagonist Kai (J.K. Simmons), a yak, who has fought out of the spirit world to steal the chi of all the kung fu masters across China. Additional voice talent include Randall Duk Kim (reprising as Master Oogway), Kate Hudson and Bryan Cranston.

+ as expected, the voice acting is fantastic. Jack Black as Po, in particular, has found his niche as the man-baby panda-warrior; his gasps and ‘fanboy’ moments are particularly enjoyable. Angelina Jolie as Tigress also gets more room to show her range than previous films. The brief but important return of Randall Duk Kim as oogway was great to hear again
+ the film is genuinely funny, with various laugh-out-loud moments, coming from either the Physical comedy, or just how stupid Po is at times. A handful of lines in particular have been stuck in my head for days, and they still make me chuckle
+ more than either previous film, this movie simply looks gorgeous. Each individual hair on Po is visible and reacts to the wind, and the destruction (and boy howdy, is there destruction) is beautifully haunting
+ big bad Kai (a somewhat unrecognizable J.K. Simmons, until he gets really angry) has a theme song using a remix of Imagine Dragons’ I’m So Sorry. Kai’s actions, too, are by far the darkest of the series’ villains; there is no tragic backstory for him, he’s just evil

> it’s rather telling that I very recently went to see Ice Age: Collision Course, and felt it missed many good opportunities, because this film managed to hit all the right notes. A large cast was not bloated, a primarily comedy movie was able to be genuinely touching at times, and even though it is a children’s film, there was enough to keep adults interested.

Should you see this film: Absolutely. The film manages to meet or surpass both of the previous films, without ever becoming repetitive. Not since Toy Story have I enjoyed each entry in an animated trilogy like I have for these films.

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