Sunday, March 13, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3

Year: 2016
Directors: Jennifer Yuh and Alessandro Carloni
Voice cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, J.K. Simmons, Angelina Jolie, Bryan Cranston

Plot: Kai, a former ally turned enemy of Master Oogway, escapes the spirit world with a quest to rob every kung fu master in China of their chi. Po is the one destined to stop him, but in order to do so, he must rediscover himself, with the help of his long lost father.

Review: At the end of this film, it almost felt like the adventures of Po aka the Dragon Warrior has finally come full circle, yet I hear that they plan on making three more Kung Fu Panda flicks. While that piece of news might sound encouraging, I sure hope they make it better than this one, because it feels like the quality of the films are slowly going down.

The formula hasn't changed much. There is a villain, usually a pretty formidable one. The villain takes out several martial art masters, which includes some of the Furious Five. And Po will have to learn something new to stop said villain. Now, I don't have a problem with the formula because it works. But the execution needs to hit its mark and they miss it in certain areas. As the story goes, the villain is Kai, an ox from the spirit world who takes the chi from all the great masters including Master Oogway and travels to the mortal world to do the same. Meanwhile, Master Shifu puts Po in charge of teaching the Furious Five, which turns out poorly. But the panda suddenly runs into his Li, his long lost father, much to the chagrin of his adoptive father Mr. Ping. When word of Kai's arrival reaches the valley, Po realises that he must rediscover his origins by returning with Li to his roots at a remote panda village.

As far as the plot goes, the filmmakers have done it right. Po once again has to learn a lesson or two to beat the enemy, and it doesn't always mean a new kung fu move. The film has its heart in the right place, as Po learns how to teach and reconnect with his own past, while his two fathers learn a lesson of their own.

But the film's humour is where it is left wanting. The first part of the movie works perfectly, and it is only when Po arrives at his father's village when the jokes start to take a juvenile turn. While watching Po perform physical comedy in the last two films seem like fun, watching a bunch of similar looking pandas of all sizes and ages do the same thing isn't. And the sequences keep coming one after the other, and it gets tiresome real quick. The kids will probably love it though (there was this kid four or five seats to my right in the cinema laughing continuously at this, so there). The final fight scene between Po and Kai was also a letdown as it takes on a supernatural level of combat. Now, I don't have any issues with the use of chi and how that plays into this battle, but seeing this is like seeing Neo vs Agent Smith in Matrix Revolutions when they start doing aerial battles. I like fights that obeys the law of physics more than those that don't, even if this is a cartoon.

But it's really not a bad film, as Kung Fu Panda 3 goes in the direction it has to go. And the dramatic beats of the film still hit the right spots every time. There was also a segment involving Crane and Mantis away from the main cast which is a nice touch, otherwise the Five aside from Tigress never get enough screen time.

To sum it up, Kung Fu Panda 3 is watchable indeed if you've been following the franchise so far. But they need to raise the level of comedy to appeal to the older generation as well. Let's hope they do that for number four. (6/10)

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