We have finally come to the last Kung Fu Panda movie (for this countdown, anyway). I don’t know if DreamWorks will ever revisit this series, but, if not, it fortunately ends on an emotionally satisfying note with Kung Fu Panda 3.
The story concerns a power-hungry yak named Kai (J.K. Simmons) who escapes the spirit realm by taking the chi of Master Oogway (the tortoise from the first movie) and, upon returning to the mortal world, plans to steal the chi of the Dragon Warrior, who is now Po (Jack Black). However, before this can happen Po, needs to find out who he is if he wants to be a true master of chi.
This leads to a fateful meeting with Po’s father, Li (Bryan Cranston), who offers to teach Po how to master chi by taking him back to the secret panda village where Po was born. It is in this village that Po finally learns who he is and gains mastery over his powers.
Fortunately there are mostly positives in this film. However, it does at times hit overly familiar notes in the writing and the humor sometimes feels forced and not very sharp. Luckily it is directed with emotion by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Allesandro Carloni, which saves it. Kung Fu Panda 3 is especially good when it tackles themes of adoption and focuses on its central message of being yourself and finding your own unique power.
The action sequences are well-staged, the character animation is strong, and the visuals are some of the most beautiful of any animated film. Hans Zimmer’s score also adds a lot to the scope and energy of the scenes. I especially love the 2D flashback sequences, which were so refreshing to see in a DreamWorks film.
The cast is also on top of their game. Jack Black as Po is perfect, Bryan Cranston gives humanity to the voice of Li, and Angelina Jolie’s seriousness as Tigress continues to play well with Jack Black’s goofiness.
Overall, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a satisfying end to a satisfying trilogy.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes