Get ready for a surprise! You guys know I will always be honest with how I feel about a film. I went into Kung fu Panda 3 with extremely low expectations. I hated all the trailers and the character designs didn’t look great. I liked the first one, really enjoyed the second and 3 seemed like a step back. Well, I’m thrilled to tell you I was wrong! Kung fu Panda 3 is not a step back. In fact, it is solidly the best of the 3 and is in the running for the best CG film Dreamworks has ever made. Yep, you read right! That’s how I really feel.
There are so many reasons I loved this movie. First of all, it combined the strengths of 1 and 2 perfectly. It had the first film’s humor and sweet message with the sequels action and authentic martial arts movie feel. But that’s not all. It had a good story, sweet messaging and beautiful animation.
I was so impressed with the way the film combined 2D, hybrid and CG elements seamlessly. That has always been a part of the series but here it wasn’t just a dream sequence that was 2D, it was intermixed into the entire story which was beautiful. The colors were also bright and full of life. Kung fu Panda 3 gets serious points just for being so great to look at. The trailers did not do it justice at all!
The story revolves around a spirit named Kai who has a score to settle with Master Oogway from the first film. In revenge he has conquered all of the spirits of the great masters and absorbed their chi into himself. He finally absorbs Master Oogway and that allows him back into the human world. Still out for revenge he seeks to take all the mortal masters including the great Dragon Warrior.
As he absorbs the characters it creates kind of a jade zombie and with each one he becomes stronger and bigger. Meanwhile, Po is learning from Master Shifu to become a teacher instead of the student. He also meets his biological father and learns about a secret community of Pandas which is strong in chi and defeated Kai before.
There are a lot of interesting things about this story. I particularly liked the struggles Po’s adoptive father has when he meets his biological father. As an adoption advocate, I thought that was handled very well. Also learning how to teach as the final step in becoming the Dragon Warrior is a very insightful plot thread for the film.
Like I said, the humor is used just enough to break up the villainy but not so much as to feel annoying or crass. I laughed quite a bit. The action is a lot of fun but never too drab or scary for little kids. I think people who felt Kung fu Panda 2 was boring will like this entry much better.
The voice cast works very well with some new talent in JK Simmons, Kate Hudson, and Bryan Cranston. I still wish to begin with they hadn’t had such modern voice talent but I prefer this cast too the dragon cast any day of the week.
The film just works. It’s beautiful to look at. It’s exciting, funny, sweet and I was consistently entertained. I want to give a special congrats to director Jennifer Yuh Nelson. There aren’t that many female directors in animation and I really admire what she has done here.
I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about the film. Maybe I will when I watch on repeated viewings. Like the Lego Movie, it will probably be skipped for nominations because of its early release but it is certainly worthy. I loved it.
You’all might think I’m crazy but I don’t care:
Overall Grade- A+
Here is my youtube review: