Friday, December 9, 2016

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Laughs and adorable new characters
Cons: Plot very familiar
The Bottom Line:
Po back in action
Third film is filled with laughter
And familiar plot

Awesomely Fun Threequel

Up next in my continuing saga of missing movies in the theater comes Kung Fu Panda 3.  Since I’d enjoyed the first two, I really did intend to see it when it came out, but somehow, that didn’t quite happen.  But now that’s it out on Blu-Ray I was able to catch up on the adventures of the Kung Fu Dragon Master Po.  As always, they are fun.

Po (voiced by Jack Black) is about to get the surprise of his life.  His master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) has decided to retire to pursue the next level of enlightenment through meditation.  He feels that Po is ready to train the rest of the Furious Five.  But when the first training session ends in disaster, Po heads to his father’s noodle restaurant.

And it’s at the restaurant where Po gets another surprise.  In walks Li Shang (Bryan Cranston), his long lost Panda father.  While Po is thrilled to finally meet him and travel to the panda village, his adopted father Mr. Ping (James Hong) is less than happy.

But the timing couldn’t be better.  Kai (J. K. Simmons) has returned from the dead.  This Kung Fu master also desires to master meditation.  While he doesn’t have everything down, he can bend others to his will, something he starts doing to the Kung Fu masters he meets on his travels across China.  The pandas actually hold the secrets, but can Po learn them in time?  And can Po teach them enough Kung Fu to defeat Kai when he shows up?

Let’s get my complaint out of the way first.  We’ve seen this movie before.  Not only is the plot familiar from other similar movies, but it is the basic plot of the first two movies.  Change the villain and what Po must learn, and we have this sequel.  But it is a sequel after all, and that’s what most of them are.

And that’s not to say that it is a bad thing.  The plot still works.  While I wasn’t caught up in every second of it, I was certainly anxious to find out just how Po would wind up defeating the villain.

Naturally, the characters help.  All the old characters are back, and we meet an entire new batch of pandas when we get to the village.  They are adorable and a wonderful addition to the franchise.

But the best part?  The humor.  There are lots of laughs as Po learns the way of the panda and teaches them Kung Fu.  The jokes come effortlessly and are delightful.

While this movie doesn’t have any money shots like Pixar films often do, the animation is great.  The voice actors are just as wonderful as always as well, and it’s easy to get caught up in the characters and the story they are telling.

So if you’ve enjoyed the franchise, don’t hesitate to see Kung Fu Panda 3.  You’ll laugh as you enjoy catching Po’s latest adventures.

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