Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni
Written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger
Starring: Jack Black, J. K. Simmons, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and Kate Hudson
“Kung Fu Panda 3,” like its two predecessors, is highlighted by excellent animation from DreamWorks Animation and an underlying demographic-neutral humor.
The animation was well done; it was done in the current computer generated 3D style, essentially Pixar-style animation. Most movies that are a made like this end up looking too similar to Pixar’s movies, but “Kung Fu Panda” manages to have its look, at least, it does not look too much like a Pixar film. Where the animation in the animation in “Kung Fu Panda 3” exceeds is in the same area that the two “Kung Fu Panda” films that preceded this one, the martial arts scenes. The martial arts are so well done that it feels like you are watching an animated version of a fight scene from a martial arts movie.
Aside from the animation, “Kung Fu Panda” also benefits from Jack Black’s humor. Jack Black is the perfect example of the aforementioned demographic-neutral humor. What I mean by demographic-neutral is that the humor is not above the heads of children, nor is it too juvenile for older audiences. Black’s extraordinary ability to play to both demographics is always a benefit to any film in which he appears. “Kung Fu Panda” also sports a talented roster of actors filling the other roles including J.K. Simons, Bryan Cranston, and Dustin Hoffman. The other actors bring their talents to their roles in the film.
What “Kung Fu Panda 3” is at its core is a story about father and son, but the movie spends little time on this aspect and instead is more of a crazy mish mosh of the main plot and unnecessary panda village stuff. The main plot of the movie revolved around the evil Kai coming back from the spirit realm, with the father/son ends up being the subplots subplot. Once the panda village is introduced the panda village takes over as the subplot, then at the climax, becomes part of the main plot. The main plot should have been exploring the rekindling of the relationship between Poe and his father, with the Kai stuff and the panda village making up the entire subplot. The father/son plot would have made a stronger narrative.
Overall, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is a fun ride for the whole family. Attention DreamWorks, that better show up on the cover of the DVD like the quotes from Scott Mantz and Peter Travers. It does not add anything to the existing franchise, but it does not take away anything either.