Kung Fu Panda 3 Movie Review


Kung Fu Panda 3 Movie Review
Ooh, Po's (Jack Black) excited to get another inevitable sequel in, Kung Fu Panda 3


Even though Dreamworks Animation Studios has been releasing films since 1998 with Antz, they didn't really hit it big until 2001's Shrek. I've always pictured them as a strong number two to Pixar. For the most part, their films have been on the more lighter side with simple morality tales that don't linger on in afterthought, like with Pixar's releases.

For the good part of a decade (2000's), they released a fair amount of films that relied more on originality and less on sequel attraction (Shrek excluded). Films like Chicken Run, Shark Tale, Madagascar, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Over the Hedge, Flushed Away, Bee Movie, Monsters vs. Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda, each had something special about them that kept Dreamworks in close competition with the big boys.

Then similar to Pixar, the original ideas got weaker and the sequels multiplied as well, with a couple of spin-offs as seasonal filler (Megamind, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Rise of the Guardians, The Croods, Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Penguins of Madagascar, and Home).

I know that's a long list, but it's there to prove a point; Each one of Dreamworks' films from this decade (2010's) goes from bland to decent, with little greatness there to be found. And what's next for us to look forward to? A lame looking Trolls movie and a Croods sequel. Maybe Dreamworks should stop trying to compete so hard, and go back to what made them so significant in the first place?

Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3 is exactly what is wrong with Dreamworks nowadays; An expensive sequel that borders on a lack of substance and insignificance. With an estimated one-hundred and forty million dollar budget, it's probably the best looking Dreamworks Animation film to date.

The visuals flow like a living work of art. What kills me though, is that there's still plenty of story to tell for Po the Panda & company, but the film doesn't give itself nor the audience much time to explore those stories before it's time to dispatch another villain. Another problem, is that this film is too kid friendly for me to ever feel that anyone is ever truly in danger. There is however a good lesson to be learned throughout Po's journey about always improving yourself, and that learning never ends.

At the same time though, how many more films are going to tell us that Po is still incomplete? This time, it's about him learning to be the teacher and discovering his chi. I thought that he found inner peace the last time? Apparently the writers forgot to look up how difficult it is to access the chi of a fat person, let alone a portly panda. The classic sense of humor is still present, yet it's more cute funny than just funny.

There's plenty of action that's accompanied by Hans Zimmer's (Pirates of the Caribbean) energetic score, which is generally effective as long as you don't mind it blaring over some of the dialogue and sound effects.

The Father/Son tale starts off as amusing and engaging. Jack Black's energy distracts from Kung Fu Panda 3's shortfalls, and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Po's long lost Father, holds interest before the story starts to slide downhill. The first half works very well until the second half shows up and derails everything. It's crammed with scenes of self-discovery, villain attacks, family squabbles, a training montage, an extra-worldly final battle, and a dance number.

No wonder nothing fits into place by the end. If they're planning on making at least six films, they should have saved something for the next one. Once again (as usual), The Furious Five (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross) get left in the background for much of the entire story. Even Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) has less to do besides meditating and getting his expert level ass kicked again.

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as the next all-powerful villain Kai, sounds out of place for his character; Like he's voicing an afternoon cartoon show. But hey, Kai stands out as his own self instead of just another copycat bad guy. Another character problem is from Po's adoptive Father Mr. Ping, played by James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China). I understand that he's afraid of losing Po to his new found Dad, but to have him lurking around and complaining for comedic effect, is just sad and time wasting.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Kung Fu Panda 3

The Good- The intro fight scene between Kai and Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim); Stunning and action packed. Too bad the rest of the film couldn't work as well.

The Bad- You introduce the cool/hilarious character of Master Chicken, and then you don't do anything with him? What the hell?!

The Ugly- For the third time, we get to see that Po is the chosen one. Like we haven't realized it already. But this time was much easier. All he had to do was get his ass kicked into the spirit world, strap on a hat, and talk peacefully as if he'd been training for decades. Next thing you know, INSTANT CHI!!!

Final Thoughts

Kung Fu Panda 3 looks really beautiful but that's not enough. For a film that preaches constant self-improvement and control, it raises the question of why couldn't the writers do the same with the story? If they would have slowed things down and used a little more composure, this would have been great. I guess it really doesn't matter when the end result still generates over half a billion dollars per movie. I was let down by this incomplete film, but the kids will probably not even notice. They'll just laugh at the two fatties bouncing off of each other and everything. See in theaters to distract them for a bit. Just don't expect to be too distracted yourself.
Rating- 5.5 out of 10

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
PG | 95 min | Action| Adventure| Comedy| January 2016
Continuing his "legendary adventures of awesomeness", Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

Directors: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh
Writers: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Stars: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman