Dan's Review: "Kung Fu Panda 3" has just enough awesomeness
Kung Fu Panda 3 - ©2015 DreamWorks Animation
Kung Fu Panda 3 (Dreamworks Animation)
Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humor.
Starring (voices of) Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Steele Gagnon, Liam Knight, Wayne Knight, Barbara Dirickson, Al Roker, Willie Geist, Fred Tatasciore.
Written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger.
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni.
As animated franchises go, there aren’t many that can be considered successful that don’t have the Disney/Pixar name attached to them. Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda series is one of those rare exceptions, delivering unprecedented box office and acclaim. The third installment hits theaters this weekend with Kung Fu Panda 3.
Jack Black is back as the voice of Po, the chubby hero “Dragon Warrior” chosen by Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) to protect China from evil while leading the “Furious Five.” The “Five” consist of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan, Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu). The Five’s trainer is Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), who turns over stewardship of the group to Po. At the same time, Po’s birth father Li (Bryan Cranston) shows up in the village and reconciles with his long-lost son.
Meanwhile in the spirit realm, Master Oogway encounters Kai (J.K. Simmons), a former ally vanquished years prior. Kai attacks Oogway, steals his “chi” and resurrects into mortal form again, returning to the real world where he vows to kill the Dragon Warrior and reign over the mortal and spirit worlds. Kai eventually takes the chi from the Furious Five and marches toward the mountain village where Po has taken refuge with Li and his adoptive father Ping (James Hong). Po hopes to master the art of spiritual Chi, an ability innate in Pandas. Po also tries to train all his newfound panda relatives, from the cute little ones to the older folks. When Kai arrives, Po must use all his cunning and skill to defeat him, but not without making a daring sacrifice first.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is everything fans would expect from the franchise, complete with all the humor and charm in the two preceding films. That said, it isn’t the best film in the series, nor is it any worse. I’m not sure if the franchise can expand much further without resorting to desperate gimmickry and the introduction of even more major characters, either. Not to spoil anything, but there isn’t much more Po can achieve after gaining Kung Fu master status. It feels like we’ve reached the limit of his progress.
Even so, Kung Fu Panda 3 delivers another good dose of awesomeness and entertainment for the whole family.
Kung Fu Panda 3 Trailer