KUNG FU PANDA 3 Review – Karate Chopping Its Way Into Theaters

It’s been almost five years since the “Dragon Warrior” and the “Furious Five” have appeared on the big screen and just like the films that came before it, KUNG FU PANDA 3 is a lot of fun.  Beginning with an inspired re-imagining of the Dreamworks Animation logo (starring everyone’s favorite karate chopping panda) and continuing with an entertaining adventure that is both exciting and heartfelt, this new entry into the Oscar-nominated franchise is destined to please both kids and adults alike.  Continue reading for more of our review of KUNG FU PANDA 3.

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This time out our hero Po (Jack Black) finds himself in the position of taking over his instructor Shifu’s (Dustin Hoffman) duties of training Tigress (Angelina Jolie Pitt), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu), with disastrous results.  When Po is surprised by the arrival of Li (Bryan Cranston), his bigger-than-life long-lost dad, they begin to form a new found relationship which doesn’t sit well with his adoptive father Mr. Ping (James Hong) who feels left out.  It’s not long though before the villainous Kai (J.K. Simmons) emerges from the spirit world intent on stealing the chi of all the Kung Fu masters and Po is forced to flee with Li to the Land of Pandas to try to figure out a way to stop him.

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The fearsome and power-hungry warrior Kai (voiced by J.K. Simmons) in DreamWorks Animation’s KUNG FU PANDA 3 ©2015 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Jack Black once again brings the perfect balance of humor and heart to the role of Po as he sets out on the road of self-discovery, but it’s the supporting cast of characters that really elevates the story.  Writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger are back working on their third film in the series, delivering a script that blends the right amounts of excitement, humor and emotion.  While this is definitely Po’s story, they succeed in giving enough time to the supporting cast and allowing them to have small stories of their own.  Tigress is allowed to bond with a young panda in a scenario that is especially moving, while the best relationship in the film may be between the two fathers, Mr. Ping and Li.  Although Mr. Ping starts out with feelings of jealousy towards Po and Li’s new found relationship, the moments of bonding between the two dads utilizes the themes of respect and family very effectively.

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(L-R) Po (voiced by Jack Black) meets his long-lost panda father Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) for the first time in DreamWorks Animation’s KUNG FU PANDA 3 ©2015 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson who helmed KUNG FU PANDA 2 returns to share the reigns with co-director Alessandro Carloni.  Together they keep the action moving at a fast pace.  Creating an exciting visual style that mixes different animation techniques with a clever use of split-screens, they are able to create one of those rare films that actually finds a way to use the process of 3D to great effect.

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Po (voiced by Jack Black) frolicking in the panda village’s hot spring in DreamWorks Animation’s KUNG FU PANDA 3 ©2015 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

KUNG FU PANDA 3 is one of those rare sequels that isn’t a step down in quality from the original films in the series.  The animation is visually exciting while the characters are both funny and heartfelt.  If you’re a fan of the first two films then you’re going to love this third installment.  For those not familiar with the “Dragon Warrior” or the “Furious Five,” this movie gives you a fun way to get to know them.

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About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast “Skywalking through Neverland” and co-host of the Podcast “Talking Apes TV.” Mark’s short film “Gourmet” took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It’s not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn’t matter, he loves them all.