Animated Movies, DreamWorks, Reviews, Studios

DreamWorks Countdown 32: ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’

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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

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  • I agree with all of these points, the performances and directing really make this movie a fun blast while still super satisfying, I guess my only nitpick would be the second one was just so much more amazing that I had seriously high hopes and I still can’t say it’s my favorite of the trilogy, but despite that I still think it was a good watch nonetheless!

  • I am not gonna lie, this was the weakest of the 3
    movies in my view. Kai wasn’t as interesting as
    the other villains and I felt they toned down the
    more dramatic aspects that made the 2nd movie
    so good. Still, Panda 3 was a good movie with a
    satisfying story, fun action, and great animation.

  • Manuel Orozco

    Although the animation loses a bit of the astonishment of the rest of the series, KFP 3 manages to prove that Po’s journey over the course of 8 years is the best trilogy DreamWorks ever created. Just my opinion. The three movies have been able to maintain quality with surprising results. Even if 3 went for a lighter and softer rebound from #2 tonewise. But the fun magnitude has been increased to help make the story come full circle.

  • Marielle

    Even if it was kind of a silly film, I think they did a fantastic job wrapping up the themes of the trilogy. Po had to reconcile his identity, like he says at the end, he’s a student, a teacher, the son of a goose, the son of a panda, etc. That finale scene in the golden after world was beautiful and Mr. Ping had some emotional moments too.

    I read that Rebel Wilson was supposed to voice the panda woman, but they had to replace her at the last minute. I think she would have been hilarious.

  • Alex Beezley

    While I did not like Kung Fu Panda 3 as much as the first two films, I still thought it was an entertaining film with great action scenes and good voice acting. I also liked the relationship between Po and Li as well as the top notch animation. My only major complaint is that the villain is bland and not very inspired. Some minor quibbles include the juvenile humor and the character of Mei Mei, who I found to be somewhat annoying and unnecessary. Nevertheless, this is a good film that ranks among the best of 2016.

  • Renard N. Bansale

    This was my favorite animated film and film in general of 2016 at the time I saw it. It’s still my favorite of the trilogy. So thrillingly triumphant!

  • Firecat

    An excellent conclusion to Po’s story and in general one of the best animated hits of 2016. Well done, Dreamworks!

    • Manuel Orozco

      My other favorites in animation that year were Sing Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana

  • Rachel Wagner

    This is my favorite of the 3 because I feel it balanced the comedy of the first and the action of second really well and I liked the adoption message

    • Ryan

      Glad my you loved it. I thought it was a hot mess and lacked so much with what I loved so much about the past two films. Even the adoption message has been done before in the second one (which will forever be my favorite). I also found the action and comedy extremely lacking as well. Happy it’s your favorite though. I really wanted to feel the same.

      • Rachel Wagner

        Ok. Different strokes!

  • Lee DeWald

    The “Kung Fu Panda” series is, for me, the crown jewel of DreamWorks Animation. I love everything about the series: the films, the holiday specials, the television series, the making-of art books, the music score. They could make a hundred of these, and I would line up to pay and see each one.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Well I didn’t watch the TV show but I did watch the main features and NBC Christmas special. I just rather be casual and not too into it in case it causes my fandom causes some mental issues.

  • Ryan

    This is one of my most disappointing films ever that gets worse the more I think about it. Glad you loved it, but I thought it was a derivative mess.

  • Jerrico

    It is odd that these films seem to get sillier with each one.

    I do hope they take the focus off of Po in the upcoming ones and give the other characters some backstory. The Furious Five have been pushed so far back you could get rid of all of them except Tigeress and few would notice. We’ve never actually seen the Five accomplish anything without Po at this point. They are basically there to show how powerful Po and the Villains are. And now they’ve added more characters and they weren’t getting many lines to start with.

    And what is the deal with the baby panda that Tigeress apparently adopted. Did they scrap something and keep that part? She doesn’t let go of the kid for the entire final third.

    Kai was more impressive than I’d expected. He seemed like a downgrade from Shen and Tai from the photos, but he turned out well. Would like to see a lady villain. I also like not to see a love triangle.

    My only nitpick, Kai knocked down the Jade Palace and then its suddenly back at the end. Takes away a lot of the impact if we never see it destroyed or the rebuilding afterwords.

    • Firecat

      Actually, if you look closely at the end, you can see construction workers and scaffolding.