This second sequel in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, Kung Fu Panda III has long been anticipated, both in terms of the storyline (following on from the snippet at the very end of Kung Fu Panda 2) and also from a business-sense (as these films are guaranteed money makers from Dreamworks Animation).
All the well-known voice cast in this franchise are back for another crack: Jack Black as Po (the Kung Fu Panda of the title), Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu, Angelina Jolie as Tigress, Jackie Chan as Monkey, and Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross as Mantis, Viper and Crane respectively. James Hong also returns as Po’s adoptive goose father, and his role is greatly expanded in this film. New to the cast in this film are acclaimed actors Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad fame) as Po’s real father, and JK Simmons as Kai, the villain of this flick, an evil water buffalo bent on becoming the greatest kung fu master on earth. Kate Hudson also has a cameo in this movie – see if you can pick her! (I couldn’t!)
The plot is very similar to the other Kung Fu Panda movies: Po, content with his life, wonders if he can be more (even though he’s now the Dragon Warrior). The evil kung fu master Kai the Water Buffalo comes and challenges everyone for domination of the world, and it’s up to Po and his friends to stop Kai and save the day. The sub-plot and definite point of difference in this movie is that this battle takes place amidst Po finding his long-lost father, and discovering his heritage as a panda amongst others of his kind. Cue lots of cute panda jokes.
This film is well made, with the now classic Dreamworks-style animation made famous by these films and others such as the Shrek series. The main voice actors know their characters very well now, and the new additions perform well also. However, I felt the plot was very predictable, and I pretty much knew what was going to happen in the next scene before it occurred. And by the end of the film I certainly got the impression that Dreamworks have wrapped up the Kung Fu Panda story; this could well have been the last battle for Po and his friends.
A nice film, without it being anything special or giving us anything really new. Perfect if you have kids under 10, or if either they or even yourself are invested in the Kung Fu Panda movies – you’ll enjoy it.
3 stars for the film + 0.5 star loading for a film series I’m invested in = 3.5 stars
Reviewed by David Emms