Distributor: DreamWorks Animation
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni
Writer: Glenn Berger & Jonathan Aibel
Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Lui, Seth Rogen
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Adventure
While the film did feel more rushed than its previous sequels, the writers and creators certainly stuck to what they knew best in execution and dialogue. Supporting characters became more relatable, the comedy was not overdone, and the films gives warm family feelings with a message in the end.
When an ancient enemy of China known as Kai (J.K. Simmons) returns from the spirit world for power and revenge, Kung Fu Master and Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) must learn and search within himself to know who he really is in order to defeat his enemy. With the help of his long lost father Li (Bryan Cranston), Po begins a new journey to train a village full of lovable yet clumsy Panda brethren to take down Kai once and for all.
Violent Content: Martial art fight sequences. Nothing violent that is too troubling.
Language/Crude Humor: Some crude but innocent humor of Po and his Panda brethren.
Sexual Content: None.
Drug/Alcohol Content: None.
Spiritual Content: In the beginning and towards the ending, kung fu fights take place in the spirit world. There are also scenes of Po and others connecting to the spirit world as one.
Negative Content: There is lying involved along with a hunger and lust for power from the villain Kai.
Positive Content: The importance of family, discovering oneself, and unity among loved ones.
An animated comedy can stand out well. A sequel may not be its best option, but still can be found enjoyable. Any sequel afterwards has a chance to damage and even destroy a series as a whole, such as the Ice Age franchise that has deteriorated with every additional installment. With the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, however, each film has stood at just about the same height in terms of how good they are as installments.
Unless one was not amused by animation comedies for children, the writers and creators of the series have always stuck with strong comedy portrayals that refrain from going overboard in crude humor and in annoyance. I became concerned that the comedy would be overdone to the point of rolling my eyes. Fortunately, it was fun, entertaining, and laughable, not just for children but for adults as well, allowing me to remember what it was like to be a child amused by comedy.
An improvement in the film was the involvement of the supporting cast, particularly the Furious Five. Before Kung Fu Panda 3, with the exception of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), they had little to no purpose for the plot as a whole other than just simply being there for backup or small comedic relief. In this film, the four had much more depth as it gave them a reason to actually have a significant role in Po’s life.
As seen in the previous installments, there are always warmhearted moments between characters. Children and adults are given an understandable touching moment not just between Po and his father, but with the panda family as a whole and Po’s adoptive father. There is a strong sense of unity towards the end of the film in how they interact and how they help Po plan to defeat Kai with their unique abilities and strengths.
Po continues to search for his inner self, this time dealing with who he is. As a children’s film, it is important to portray the idea that children eventually grow up and discover who they are as people, from their gifts and their abilities to who they are as a person and more importantly, under Christ. Kung Fu Panda 3 offers a strong portrayal in how large of a role family plays into who we are.
While it is understandable that the aim is towards children, this particular installment felt more rushed compared to the previous sequels. From Po’s confrontation with Kai to reuniting with his father, there was little to take from each character, particularly the pandas. Knowing that they are all in relation to Po, certainly some would stand out other than just Po’s father. Instead, we receive side characters with little involvement for Po on how to discover who he is as a Panda. While they did have great use when it came to the confrontation of Kai, there in the involvement was glossed over until then.
It has been long since DreamWorks Animation has released a well-deserved sequel to one of its series. The Kung Fu Panda trilogy has certainly been an enjoyable one let alone a successful one in reviews and in the box office. As much as I have enjoyed the series, I believe that this third installment should be its last. It has wrapped up very well and certainly has concluded the series. If a fourth sequel were to arise, they have much to mount up to.
+ Laughable and enjoyable comedy + Importance of family and finding oneself
- Rushed plot and confrontation
The Bottom Line
Th third installment of the Kung Fu Panda series stands as tall as the previous films in comedy, entertainment, and family time.