Here’s something I’ve only said about a few third franchises in a chain; I loved this. This is a really good, really clever storyline that unfolds pretty organically. I mean, haven’t we always kind of known Po was adopted? His father was a bird, for Christ sakes.
Well, that loose end gets tied up in Kung Fu Panda 3, where we meet Li (Bryan Cranston) Po’s (Jack Black) long lost dad. The two connect and Po gets to meet up with a whole world of pandas. All is good, until the evil yak Kai (J.K. Simmons) begins challenging Kung Fu masters across the land, and Po had to train an army of Pandas to fight.
I absolutely loved that they managed to take this in a new, fresh direction without forcing a plot point. It really was a very well done story that’s complicated enough to be intriguing, while simple enough for younger viewers to follow. The writing was phenomenal and there are more than a few laugh out loud moments.
Of course, the animation continues to be excellent and adorable. It’s the caliber of animation that’s expected to come from a DreamWorks/Disney effort. Everything about the movie is visually appealing and it would have gotten marks for that alone if the screenplay was crap.
But the screenplay wasn’t crap. It was pretty damn good. I loved the addition of Bryan Cranston, easily one of my favorite actors, and he has a great ‘dad’ voice. He helped to take this movie to a new dimension.
This movie deserved to be the one to beat out The Revenant at the Box Office. It’s just what we need to recover from that movie anyway. It’s cute, it’s fun and it’s intelligently made. This sequel was written with the same care that an original would have been and that made all the difference. It’s rare to see a number three that isn’t a shameless cash grab, and this clearly isn’t. It appears to still be a labor of love for those involved.
If that’s the caliber they keep producing, they can keep putting out one Kung Fu Panda after another forever and never have a straight to video run. Of course, that isn’t really sustainable, so while I enjoyed this movie, I have to say that enjoyment is bittersweet because I’m sure any future Kung Fu Panda movies will come up lacking when compared to this one.
It’s a fun, uplifting movie that’s tied into a neat storyline and will be difficult to beat for any future animated features. Of course, I’m not aware of any coming out soon, so Kung Fu Panda may reign at the box office for some time. This is clearly a collaborative effort, from the artists at DreamWorks, to screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, as well as Yuh Nelson and her co-director, Alessandro Carloni, who collaborated to deliver a terrific, well-paced storyline for Po and his companions.
If you have kids, this one is worth the watch. Heck, it’s one that’s worth the watch even if you don’t have kids.
This is absolutely worth the watch, though you may want to get comfortable. You’re going to be there awhile.
WE GIVE IT: 4.5 STARS!
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