While it is often hard to argue with success, whenever a movie touts “The Continuing Adventures of…” whoever, no matter how much fun you may have with it, the growing chance of diminishing returns is just unavoidable.
In Kung Fu Panda 3 the stakes get raised as Po faces yet another seemingly impossible challenge and while the laughs and the high octane fun are still there, the formula is definitely getting a little strained as it proves you can only go to the well so many times.
Po (Jack Black) is at the top of his game as the Dragon Warrior, taking out bad guys and dumplings as fast as he possibly can, that is until he gets some news that he would have never expected. Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) decides that it is time for Po to become the master and Po’s long lost father; Li (Bryan Cranston) has just come into town looking to reconnect with his son and reintroduce him to their secret Panda homeland. However, with supernatural villain Kai (JK Simmons) sweeping across China defeating every kung fu master that dares to cross his path, Po must do the impossible. Teach his brethren panda, who are just as clumsy and fun loving as he is, into the ultimate army of Kung Fu Panda’s in order to save the country and all of his friends in The Five from certain doom.
With the bulk of the creative minds behind the first two films returning here for Kung Fu Panda 3, nothing really misses a beat as the heartfelt laughs and action that made fans fall in love with the franchise are still there but you just can’t help but shake the feeling that this is very much a “Been there, done that” kind of movie.
The writing and directing team are essentially intact so the strengths and the weaknesses of the characters are all still there which will undoubtedly delight the younger set to no end but it leaves those paying for the tickets a little sleepy at the end of the day as you can really only go to the same well so many times before it starts to get a little tiresome. The animation is obviously top notch as per the norm and the action and the lesson that is being delivered to the kiddies actually hits some emotional and almost scary levels, but I never felt like I was wholly engaged in what was happening and was rather just along for the ride.
Jack Black is his hilariously goofy self in the role and the rest of the ensemble follow suit like slipping on a comfortable old slipper. Bryan Cranston plays well off it all as we often forget that we first saw the man doing comedy before his epic turn in the hit TV show Breaking Bad and Kate Hudson fits in nicely as Mei Mei, a love interest for Po.
It’s not high art, but Kung Fu Panda 3 does all the right things and hits the right notes to be a fun affair for the kids, which is really who these movies are made for in the first place.