"Kung Fu Panda 3"
Release Date: Jan. 28, 2016
Running Time: 95 minutes
An argument could be made that How to Train Your Dragon is the best franchise DreamWorks Animation has launched. For my money, though, you can’t beat Kung Fu Panda. As proven by Kung Fu Panda 3, this is an exquisitely animated, action-packed franchise blessed with a solid emotional core and a lovable, ebullient hero whose heart is as huge as his appetite. So it’s no surprise that Kung Fu Panda 3 brings to a blissful close the personal journey Po began as a noodle shop worker and continued as a kung fu master. In Kung Fu Panda 3, Po (voiced by Jack Black) finally meets his biological father, Li Shan (voiced by Bryan Cranston). Their joyful reunion is short lived when the ancient warrior Kai (voiced by J.K. Simmons) escapes the spirit world and vows to wipe out every panda in existence as part of his bid to steal the chi of his enemy kung fu masters. Cue plenty of kung fu fighting from Po and his comrades the Furious Five as they protect a panda village from annihilation. Despite the numerous training and battle sequences that are executed with style and panache, and rendered in breathtaking 3D, directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni never fail to keep Kung Fu Panda 3’s father-son relationship front and center. The proceedings take on greater poignancy when Po’s adopted dad, goose Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong) begins to feel emotionally distance from the panda he’s raised since he found him abandoned as a cub. Also, Kung Fu Panda 3 distinguishes itself from its predecessors by developing Po’s relationship on and off the battlefield with the Furious Five’s testy and aloof Tigress (Angelina Jolie-Pitt). Tigress was oddly neglected in the first two Kung Fu Pandas—they were more concerned with Po’s interactions with his master, Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman)—but this threequel finally treats her as more than just a skilled warrior with wounded pride. Jolie, though, still lacks presence as Tigress. Unlike B lack, who, as expected, brings humor and excitement to Kung Fu Panda 3. There’s an immediate rapport between Black and the demonstrative Cranston that manifests itself in Po and Li Shan’s onscreen bonding. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Simmons doesn’t quite make Kai as potent an opponent as Ian McShane was as Kung Fu Panda’s villain Tai Lung. Of course, Po’s main adversary in Kung Fu Panda 3 is self-doubt, as it was in the previous installments. Each film has required Po to be more than he believes he can be, but Kung Fu Panda 3 pushes Po to his limits. No matter: the path of self-discovery is fraught with danger but in Po we trust.
Aired: Jan. 29, 2016
Web site: http://www.dreamworks.com/kungfupanda/