Animation film sequels can be a mixed bunch, whilst Toy Story sequels have added to the joy brought from the originals, other franchises have slowly got poorer and poorer, Shrek being our worst offender!
Coming from Dreamworks Animation, the same studio as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda 2 was an enjoyable sequel and as such a franchise was born with a spin-off TV show and now we have a 3rd movie in the form of Kung Fu Panda 3
Our Kung Fu Panda, Po voiced by Jack Black and the Furious Five all return with the same voice cast as well. (Tigress (Angelina Jolie); Monkey (Jackie Chan); Mantis (Seth Rogen); Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross)
This new film starts in the spirit world, with Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) loses a battle again the film’s new bad guy Kai (J.K. Simmons) who takes his chi as a winning prize. Kai leaves the spirit world and heads back to our world with his eyes on taking the chi from the last remaining dragon master Po!
We find from Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) that Po has yet to learn what is needed for him to find his chi! (
Shifu, who now wants to retire wants Po to become the new master and take over his teaching and training, learning how to get his own chi. Po’s first attempt, whilst hilarious for us, it’s a disaster for him. Questioning his abilities he heads to his adopted Duck father Ping (James Hong) for comfort food from the noodle bar.
Whilst at the noodle bar, Po’s long-standing dumpling eating record is finally broken, whilst this may come as a shock, it is doubled when Po learns the record breaker is another Panda!
It soon becomes apparent that this Panda, named Li Shan (voiced by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston) is Po’s biological father. Li takes Po to a secret village to bond, where he finds he is not the only one of his kind as Pandas of every age are here.
It is the story of the triangle of Po, Li Shan and Ping where this film really delivers. It handles the 2 father’s story with lots of heart. You can feel for Po’s confusion and will love the heart-warming way it is all dealt with.
This is a worthy, well thought out addition to the franchise where if you were to find flaws, some fans may not like the fact that the furious five are reduced to minor characters as the film centres on the story between Po and his fathers.
New bad guy, Kai, is also the weakest villain of the 3 films so far, again this could be due to the reduced screen time as it is all about Po, the decisions he has to face and lessons he has to learn.
However, Jack Black as Po, once again makes the film! His voice really adds to the character that you feel his enthusiasm. Bryan Cranston is also huge amounts of fun, the complete opposite of Walter White. An early sequence of the 2 causing havocs with historical artefacts is fantastic.
The Panda village is huge amounts of fun, lots of cute Panda cubs, some memorable older pandas including Big Fun (Wayne Knight) & Mei Mei (Kate Hudson)
We also have some memorable training sequences and a great montage as Po trains his Panda crew for the inevitable face off against Kai.
If you liked the previous 2 you will enjoy this one as much, we probably enjoyed it more than the sequel.
We would also say, 3-D actually added to this film, giving depth to the story. It is always great to see 3-D done well and animation seems to be embracing this the most.
So in summary, fans of Po should Skadoosh to the nearest cinemas to see his latest adventure!
Are you a Kung Fu Panda fan? What’s your favourite Animation franchise? We would love to hear from you here at Barking Mad About Films
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