Saturday, January 30, 2016

Movie Review #372: "Kung Fu Panda 3" (2016)

Movie"Kung Fu Panda 3"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Jonathan Aibel and Jennifer Yuh
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Image Source
Master Kai (J.K. Simmons) has spent the last 500 years in the spirit realm stealing the chi of other kung fu masters. Upon stealing the chi of his old friend Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), he is able to return to the mortal world. His goal is to steal the chi of the only one who can stop him: the Dragon Warrior, Po (Jack Black). Meanwhile, Po is reunited with his estranged father, Li (Bryan Cranston), who promises to take Po back to the secret panda village to instruct Po on how to master his chi.

Jack Black returns as the voice of Po the panda/Dragon Warrior. Joining him are all the usual, returning favorites: Angelina Jolie as Tigress, Seth Rogen as Mantis, Lucy Liu as Viper, David Cross as Crane, Jackie Chan as Monkey, Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, Randall Duk Kim as Master Oogway, and James Hong as Po's father, the fabulous Mr. Ping. New to the voice cast are Bryan Cranston as Po's biological father Li, and J.K. Simmons as the villainous Master Kai. Though we could not place Cranston's voice during the movie, he offers a truly commanding presence on screen in panda form. J.K. Simmons is a wonderful antagonist in this third installment. Little known fact: did you know J.K. Simmons currently voices the yellow M&M on the M&M commercials and has for 20 years? Now you do! All of these voice actors are great here and do a wonderful job in their respective roles, bringing together a stellar cast of characters in this fun family affair.

Needless to say, as the "Kung Fu Panda" series has progressed, it has gotten better with each installment. We have thoroughly enjoyed it more as time goes on, which is not something we can say about most franchises. This series continues to offer up strong sequels to what we thought was a rather average first installment. Po is, as shown in the trailer and teased in "Kung Fu Panda 2," reunited with his biological father, Li. This makes his adopted father Mr. Ping feel uneasy and he begins to think he might be losing his son. This subject matter is the source of both touching and comedic conflict, though this conflict is mostly about Mr. Ping coming to terms with the current situation and having to adjust to Po having Li in his life, too. There are some great action sequences that blend in excellent laughs, much like the old Jackie Chan films. The animation that runs throughout the film is often stylized to be reminiscent of past kung fu movies. Somehow, "Kung Fu Panda 3" seems brighter and more colorful than the other 2 installments, mixing pastels in the spirit realm with flashy colors in reality. Of course, this is a kids movie, so there is a lot of silliness and quite a few jokes about pandas being fat and eating a lot. Unlike other movies that use fatness as the butt of a joke (*cough* Paul Blart *cough*), we don't mind this banter here. As with the previous films, Po is very much like Jack Black himself: a high energy, slightly obnoxious go-getter with a good sense of humor. How much you like Po as a character might have a direct correlation with how much you like or dislike Black, but since we like him, he has always worked for us in these movies.

We really enjoyed "Kung Fu Panda 3." We laughed and smiled quite a bit, and there is even a touching moment towards the end of the movie that made us tear up a little. It drives the emotion home in the last act, which is something we look for at the movies, a good, solid connection. When Po starts to rise to whatever occasion presented, we feel happy and excited to watch his journey. As many good aspects as this movie has, it is not a perfect film. It's very contrived and has a lot of kids movie cliches. In fact, all of these movies have the same trite aspects repeated. In addition, there's a bit of a lull in the middle of the movie, but the strong ending almost negates any slow pacing issues from earlier and it's something we can definitely forgive. In the end, we left the theater with big smiles on our faces and enjoyed what we had just experienced. It seems like the other people in our theater liked the movie, too!

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 79%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "Paddington"

1 comment:

  1. Good review! I think I will try and take the girls to see it. They enjoyed the first Kungo Fu Panda.... I don't remember if we ever saw the second... Hm. Leaving the theater with a smile on your face is a great thing!