I have always been very skeptical when sequels to a film series continue to be made, especially when it feels the series his already over. When I heard there would be a third Kung Fu Panda movie, I just rolled my eyes. My mind immediately took me to the Shrek series, which is DreamWorks other major hit series. Shrek 2 is one of my favorite comedies of all time, yet its sequel Shrek the Third sucked. I felt Kung Fu Panda 3 was sure to meet the same unfortunate fate as Shrek the Third.
To my amazement, I was completely wrong.
It is a mystery how DreamWorks has taken the concept of a kung fu fighting panda and not only made it interesting, but made it a great experience. Kung Fu Panda 3 something memorable that the entire family can enjoy. I sincerely loved this movie and thought it was the funniest in the series thus far.
Kung Fu Panda 3 continues following Po (Jack Black) on his quest to learn what it truly means to be the dragon warrior. The film brings back the original cast of Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, and various others. Kung Fu Panda 3 also flaunts some new characters, including Po`s long lost Panda father Li Shan voiced by Bryan Cranston and an evil Ox named Kai voiced by J.K. Simmons. Kai has returned from the spirit realm and is now stealing the Chi of all the great kung fu masters throughout China. Po must now travel to the secret sanctuary of his Panda family and learn the ins and outs of how to be a Panda. Po must also simultaneously learns the long lost art of Chi mastering. Along the way we meet each of Po`s siblings who live within the Panda sanctuary. Each with their own eccentric personality.
The story of Kung Fu Panda continues to become more complex with each installment. We are introduced to many new characters as well as many old ones, yet DreamWorks still finds the time to develop each one. Finding the right balance of character development can be very tricky, especially when there is a lot of them. DreamWorks does this beautifully in Kung Fu Panda 3 and gives the audience a great group of likable and unique protagonists.
The action sequences are a staple of the Kung Fu Panda movies, and that is no exception here. The film is packed with ‘family friendly’ fight scenes involving a lot of humorous jokes and slapstick. These scenes are impressively choreographed and are very engaging to watch. I found myself lost in excitement during many of the fight scenes, especially the climax.
I think that Kung Fu Panda 3 works as a great film on a variety of levels. The animation that DreamWorks puts forth is spectacular, and the characters and voice acting have never been better. It is enjoyable for not only small children, but brings enough fun and imagination to the table to entertain all viewers. I have little doubt that Kung Fu Panda will continue to amaze audiences with its future installments.
The Verdict: A-