What Pixar have with Toy Story, Dreamworks have with Kung Fu Panda!
Kung Fu Panda 3 sees the return of all your favorites from the first 2 with some new ones as well. The voice cast consist of Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan and Seth Rogen. Jennifer Yuh came back to direct, along with Alessandro Carloni.
After the deadly warrior Kai escapes from the Spirit World, Po using the help of his father must learn what it means to be a panda, to save his friends and home.
I love the Kung Fu Panda series! Other than the How to Train Your Dragon films, its the best work Dreamworks have ever done. The funny thing is, a panda who does Kung Fu is a terrible idea and when the first one came out I didn’t see it until months later. I loved the first one and I loved the second even more. Now going into the third film in the franchise, I was really worried they would finally slip up on a series of films that had no right being as a good as they are. Did Kung Fu Panda 3 finally fall short? Not at all.
The first thing I want to talk about is the villain. My favorite element of each film has been the villains they’ve created. The first film you had Tai Lung played by Ian McShane. He was a intimidating, badass warrior, that posed a real threat. Then in the second film because this franchise hasn’t made it easy for themselves, they chose a peacock as the bad guy. Another idea that should have failed, somehow exceeded expectations and became the best animated villain ever. Now in the third we have Kai. Like the first film, he is a big, bruiting warrior played by J.K. Simmons. He was really good but unfortunately they’ve set the bar so high, he doesn’t quite reach it for me. The weapons he uses are really cool and the way he plays the Furious Five against Poe was great. There’s not anything wrong with him, its just in comparison with the first two villains, Kai doesn’t reach that level of greatness the series has set.
Another aspect of these films that they have done better than any other animated film, is the fight scenes. The animation is so smooth and the Kung Fu fights flow together, better than a lot of action films these days. Hans Zimmer has done the score for all three films and his score, with the amazing fights, is something I could watch for hours. I will say there isn’t much of a big final fight in this film but I liked that because they concluded the film with story based action, which set the ending apart from the others in the series.
Last week in my Ride Along 2 review, I talked about Kevin Hart being a stupid character, that is really annoying and not fun to watch. Po is the other kind of stupid character that is a big lovable guy, you want to be friends with and want to prevail. Po to me is the career defining role for Jack Black. He is so good in this role and his voice fits perfectly with the character design. The voice work has always been perfect in theses films and once again the new characters don’t disappoint. Bryan Cranston plays Po’s dad and he was a wonderful edition to the franchise. The panda village was so much fun, the way they live is very creative and I hope they stick around if they make another film. Although Kai wasn’t quite as good as I wanted him to be, J.K. Simmons has a powerful voice and brought the character to life. The returning cast are just as amazing as they were in the previous films. Brilliant voice acting all round.
The story for Kung Fu Panda 3 is similar to the others, with Po trying to learn a new move but every time they tell the story, its a bit different and executed perfectly. Like the second one, the film at its core is an emotion filled story that despite all the action and jokes, keeps you invested in Po’s journey. That being said the jokes are constant and deliver with lots of big laughs. The animation is so quick, it allows the film to have lots of visual jokes as well as the verbal ones. All the jokes, action and emotional story makes the hour and a half run time fly by, in whats probably going to be the best animated film of 2016.
Kung Fu Panda 3, I don’t think is as good as the second film but I liked it more than the first. If your a fan of the series like me, you need to go out and see this film. It progresses the tale of Po and his friends (and now his family), in what I hope won’t be the last of the Kung Fu Panda awesomeness.
Have you seen Kung Fu Panda 3 and are you a fan of the franchise? Let me know what you think in the comments below.