Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

Save for its candy colored visuals and engaging fighting scenes, Kung Fu Panda 3 is as much of a retread of the original as Kung Fu Panda 2, with more pandas.

When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas. [20th Century Fox]

Kung Fu Panda has a singular look that combines CGI with classic animation, making it a memorable kiddie fan fare. So it’s no surprise that DreamWorks makes a trilogy out of it.

The third installment has candy colored visuals and fluid fight choreography that’s worthy of a 3D viewing. The battles in the spirit world is inspired animation. The movie also benefits from the landscape and art inherent to its setting. It’s no Pixar but the franchise stands out.

However, as pleasant and somehow calming as it looks, Kung Fu Panda 3 is just as much of a retread as Kung Fu Panda 2.

Stretching its be-yourself-ism to an inch, the narrative now focuses on Po’s last stage as a Wuxian legend – become a master by teaching others. While that’s a plausible enough reason  for a third reboot, the movie opts to follow the same formula from the original.

Po is still on the road to self-discovery even though he’s already the famed dragon warrior. Once again, there’s a new big bad wreaking havoc in China and the fat Kung Fu Panda needs to get over his recurring low self-esteem and save the day. While it’s nice to see Po’s origins, the famed five gets set aside for a group of roly poly pandas that are only distinguishable from each other through stereotypical quirks. They takeover the screen and leave little room for the more interesting original cast. The only thing that’s funny here is the anonymity of a supposedly famous villain.

J.K. Simmons is perfect for the role as Kai. Unfortunately for him and Bryan Cranston, they don’t have much to do here than be stock characters like the rest of the pandas. Kung Fu Panda adds more characters with every reiteration in an attempt to mask its flaws.

In the end Kung Fu Panda 3 delivers the same old lesson. The franchise operates with the if-it ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it mantra and in fairness, successfully manages to do so. If you’re looking for the same package then the movie is enough for an hour and a half distraction for the family. For everybody else, it’s clear that the franchise has run out of ideas.

My Rating: 5/10

Movie Poster from Gold Poster

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