FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “Kung Fu Panda 3,” which is voiced by Jack Black (Goosebumps , School of Rock), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad [TV series], Trumbo), Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man, The Graduate), Angelina Jolie (Maleficent, Changeling), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash , Spider-Man ), Jackie Chan (Rush Hour, Shanghai Knights), Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Superbad), Lucy Liu (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Elementary [TV series]), David Cross (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Megamind), James Hong (Blade Runner, Mulan), Kate Hudson (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Almost Famous), and Randall Duk Kim (The Matrix Reloaded, John Wick). It is directed by Alessandro Carloni (The Shark and the Piano [Short]) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2, Spawn [TV series]), while the script is written by Jonathan Aibel (The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Monsters vs. Aliens) and Glenn Berger (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, King of the Hill [TV series]). When Po’s (Black) long-lost father, Li (Cranston), returns to take his son home, Po is sent on a journey unlike no other, discovering the hidden society of pandas as well as battling a foe that has traveled from the spirit world to conquer China.
Although I haven’t reviewed the previous “Kung Fu Panda” films, I have seen them all, having grown up with the franchise since its conception. They are lovable, fun adventures that I always get a kick out of watching, and I will say that it is one of Dreamworks’ best properties. Sequels do get tricky the further you go, however, and I was hoping that this release wouldn’t follow the precedent that most sequels present. I mean, “Kung Fu Panda 2” was a worthy follow-up to the original, so this was bound to be something good. And it was; it just wasn’t as fantastic as I wanted it to be. With the “Kung Fu Panda” movies, there is a clear layout that all of them share. Their stories present daily life in China in the beginning, a foe that soon rises, and a lesson that Po has to learn in defeating his enemy, while discovering more about his past. There wasn’t much unpredictability in this film, as it follows the same beats and style as its predecessors. I’m not necessarily angry at this, as the formula is a sweet one, but I would like the writers to mix it up come time this third outing. Along with its unpredictability comes a rather shallow nemesis, leading me to my next issue. I can’t remember his name (which should tell you something), and his approach was flimsy. He didn’t really do much, as he only sent out minions for most of the plot, and his big stand-off against Po wasn’t as magnificent as the other villains. I did like his back story though, and the voice work by J.K. Simmons was amazing. Adding to that, I also loved his character model and the weapons he used to take down his enemies. I just wish that he had more grit and presence. Everything that this movie has to offer seems to be a step down from “Kung Fu Panda” standards, whether it was the jokes (which I laughed at less than usual) or the overall lesson (which was nice, but extremely predictable). But, I still had fun with this nonetheless, because there is a lot to enjoy. For one, the art style is amazing. The way this release is edited and colored is beautiful, and it really makes the picture pop. The animation has also improved with this new flick, but that was bound to happen with the progression of time. Secondly, the characters are still lovable. You still have Po being himself as well as the Furious Five, and the voice acting is still fantastic. Even the newest characters are cool to watch, especially Bryan Cranston’s character, Li. I don’t think that the writers can ever screw up their figures. Lastly, even though the lesson is predictable, I still liked it. Having Po finish his quest while mastering his inner dragon warrior on a new level was gratifying, and I am happy to have seen it. Was it a smart idea to make this movie? I think that even though it didn’t hold much weight, I am thankful that it was released. As I have said, I love watching the “Kung Fu Panda” series, and although this threequel wasn’t as spectacular as I wanted it to be, it was still entertaining. The story could’ve bended the rules on how it is structured, but at least there was a fresh twist on the atmosphere, that being the introduction of the spirit realm. I would recommend any “Kung Fu Panda” fan to check it out. FINAL SCORE: 82%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: