Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Director: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh
Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman

Master Oogway's ancient rival escapes from the spirit realm and seeks to claim the qi of his disciples, especially the Dragon Warrior. Meanwhile, Po is reunited with his long-lost father.

I'll be honest with you. While Kung Fu Panda is one of the few Dreamworks animated features I like without reservation, I wasn't particularly eager to see this one. Besides the January release that indicates a lack of faith in the film's competitiveness, the trailers made it look like it was going to be mostly cloying baby panda antics. While there is plenty of that, much what's good about the series is retained here. I don't think it's as good as the first or second films, but it's still worth seeing. I like what they do with Po's character arc, pushing him into the mentor role while simultaneously presenting him with his long-lost kin, which was set up in the previous film. The sub-plot of Li Shan and Mr. Ping jockeying for their place in Po's life and ultimately finding equilibrium is good. Also, while I like the general idea and backstory behind Kai, he's ultimately a much weaker villain than Tai Lung or Lord Shen. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that he's undermined for comedic effect, which is showcased in the trailers.

On a technical level, Dreamworks is at the top of their game. Everything looks quite good and they take it further with some stylistic use of filters, particularly in the training montage and end credits. Honestly, I'd like to see an entire film done in the style of the end credits.

If you're a fan of the series, you shouldn't be disappointed. Whether you should see it in the theaters or not is more of a tossup, but if you've got kids pestering you to see it, I guess it's a moot point.

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