Kung Fu Panda 3

Directors: Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh

Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, David Cross, Kate Hudson, J.K. Simmons, Lucy Liu, James Hong

Written by:  Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger

Running Time: 95 mins

Cert: PG

Release date: 11th March 2016

As I sat watching the third installment of the tale of a martial arts panda, I starting asking myself questions. If Po, this chosen one, is so special, how comes even after three movies he still is as clumsy an oaf as he was in the first film. Surely by now he could, at least, stand on his own two feet without knocking something over or causing some form of catastrophe disaster? Then I remembered something: this is the third film in a series of films that relied on a clumsy panda being just that. Anyway, it’s a cartoon! Who’s the oaf now?

Po’s responsibilities as the Dragon master lead him to try and teach his fellow warriors, with disastrous effects. When his long-log father arrives and takes him to a panda village, his friends become easy targets for Kai, a spirit who wants the power bestowed upon Po. With his friends in danger, Po must take control of the situation and become the teacher to a village full of pandas, while trying to bring together his two fathers.

I have always had a problem with the Kung Fu Panda films. I enjoy them when watching them, dazzled by the detailed graphics and general high quality of the animation, managing to mix Asian culture with Hollywood colour. Yet they become instantly forgettable soon after and I struggle to even remember a single joke. Sadly, I fear, the same will happen here, even though this one was much more enjoyable than the first two.

Once again the overall animation was outstanding, with plenty for the Dreamworks animators to really get their teeth into. The battle scenes during the finale, where Po has to train his fellow pandas, is both funny and exciting while the imagination of a spirit world is brilliantly captured.

Even the humour, this time, is more obvious. A running gag about Po’s inability to spin or roll, leading him to be nauseous, is very funny. Some of the new characters bring a little more interest to the proceedings. The panda village has plenty of scope for fun. One scene, in which the pandas run to greet their new guest, only to stop due to breathlessness, is a blast. Even the message, about being yourself and need of a father figure, no matter how hard it was hammered home, wasn’t as sickening as some cartoons. Yet, the plot just seems to complicated to really care about and so I can see myself struggling to remember much about it this time next week.

The cast of voice talent seems to grow ever longer. The usual players: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan (badly underused here) are all present and correct. Adding Bryan Cranston as Po’s father and J.K. Simmons as the evil Kai brings some new depth to the cast. Although Kate Hudson’s ribbon-waving dancer seemed a waste.

Kung Fu Panda 3 is a better entry to the series and with its colourful animation and wildly inventive set pieces, it’s bound to keep the little ones amused for it’s 95 minute running time. I say 95 minute when 11 and a half minutes was handed over to the closing credits. Entertaining but alas, instantly forgettable.

3/5

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