Directed by: Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh Written by: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger Art Direction by: Max Boas Music by: Hans Zimmer
Premise: Li gets a message about the location of his missing son. This sends him to Po's village in the Valley of Peace. But the happy reunion is short lived as Kai, a battle comrade of the late Oogway, has gathered the chi of all the masters in the spirit world to come back to the land of the living. His objective? To destroy all Oogway once held dear, especially his prodigy, Po, and the pandas from the secret village. (Rated PG)
1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The great cast from previous Kung Fu Panda films are back to give us a dish full of awesomeness! There are also a lot of new characters and great actors joining the fun as Po is finally reunited with his own kind.
J.K. Simmons was fun as Oogway's frenemy Kai. Bryan Cranston shows a nice range of emotions as Po's father Li. Kate Hudson plays Mei Mei, a panda who knows what she wants and how to get it - she cracked me up. There were no small parts in this film - everyone brought something amusing to this entertaining tale.
2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Dreamworks has always shown extra effort on the Kung Fu Panda films, and number 3 is no exception. I really hadn't thought they could top the awesome visuals of KFP2, but they did. For the audience to experience the maximum effect, this one must be seen in 3D. The spirit world scenes are spectacular in 3D. The film has some truly gorgeous graphics.
The textures of the animation were also very impressive. You almost believe you can run your fingers through the pandas' fur. This makes for a wonderful contrast to the cold, sheen surface of the 'jombies' (jade zombies) Kai controls. When the two get brought together during the climax of the film, the differentiation is beautifully magnified.
Dreamworks also introduces some new visual story techniques to their repertoire as well as playing around, as they're known to do in these films, with mixing arts styles to differentiate between flashbacks or stories from the real world.
Wait until you see the super fun dragon warrior sequence in the spirit world. It's sweet! :)
3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: The storyline tackles several themes at once. Themes like family and friendship, relying on others, inner strength, knowing who you are, allowing yourself to be changed by those around you, and being yourself. Within the themes themselves they play with the concepts of duality and ying and yang. Though light on the surface, they dive into deep waters ewith regards to emotional topics and do a good job as always.
I thought the film did a wonderfully at representing the feelings of both Li and Mr. Ping with regards to their roles as Po's fathers. The solution the two eventually come up with on how to deal with their current positions was great. I also loved the little panda girl and how they used her with Tigress. It was a tale told about the two totally in the background of the main proceedings, but it made it no less poignant and definitely fun.
As the concepts of ying and yang are explored, the film also weaves all three of the KFP movies into a giant circle/wheel as we see Po become what he'd pictured himself as all along. And a fun treat awaits at the end for anyone from the 70's. You'll see. :)
Conclusion: Kung Fu Panda 3 delivers all the things we love about the previous KFP films - gorgeous animation, heartwarming storytelling, and a touch of asian mysticism. Fun film for adults and kid of all ages. If you're already a fan of KFP, you won't be disappointed. And if you can at all manage it - see it in 3D! Well worth it!
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)