This year, we got the 3rd entry in the famous Dreamworks Animation franchise, Kung Fu Panda. After being disappointed with Dreamworks Animation’s film from 2015, this was the film that I was hoping would lift my spirits! Did Kung Fu Panda 3 lift my spirits? Let’s find out!
The film continues the adventures of the Dragon Warrior panda, Po, voiced by Jack Black. He trains with the Furious Five under the instruction of Master Shifu, voiced by Dustin Hoffman. However, Master Shifu is retiring in order to focus more on spirituality and controlling chi, the energy said to live inside everyone. So, he promotes Po to take over his position training the Furious Five. This doesn’t go well at all!
If that wasn’t bad news enough, a villain named Kai, voiced by J.K. Simmons, has returned from the Spirit Realm having stolen the chi of all the great kung fu masters one by one. He’s now after the Furious Five’s chi as well as Po’s!
And if that wasn’t enough stuff for Po to deal with already, his long-lost father, voiced by Bryan Cranston, appears in town. He tells Po how he’s been looking for him for so long and that there is a secret haven for pandas hidden away in the mountains.
And that’s the basic premise of the film: Po dealing with these three plot points. One of the pros of this movie is the character development of Po. The plot points have Po questioning his identity and trying to find out who he really is! Is he a student? Is he a teacher? Is he a savior? Is he a son? Is he a panda? Is he a mixture of all of these? Is he none of these? Who is he?
Just like the previous two films in the series, the animation is overall wonderful as is the overall Kung Fu/Oriental feel of the film. The movie does have cons, however. The biggest problem that I had with it is the story. Now you’re probably wondering, didn’t I just praise the overall message of the film: identity? Yes, I did. But, there’s a difference (at least, to me) between the message of a film and the story. The message is amazing! The overall execution of the story isn’t. I feel the pacing isn’t all that great and that many scenes seem like filler.
Another problem that I had with the film is the barely present character, Mei Mei, voiced by Kate Hudson. Mei Mei is a panda and according to early information, she was supposed to have been a bit of an important character having been promised in marriage to Po when they were kids. But, that plot point seems to have been cancelled and her character is entirely pointless, much less not being all that major. Rebel Wilson was originally supposed to voice Mei Mei, but left afterwards which makes me wonder if they changed Mei Mei’s presence in the film after Rebel Wilson left the film?
In the end, there is nothing majorly bad about the film. Yes, I have problems like I mentioned, but the film does provide a level of enjoyment. I’m glad I saw it. Do I want to see more films in this franchise? Uh…probably not, but I have an open mind about it.