DREAMWORKS / 20TH CENTURY FOX
While the Kung Fu Panda franchise has never reached the bar set by Disney or Pixar's greatest computer-animated films, it hasn't quite worn out its welcome like Ice Age or Shrek. At the very least, it's the most consistent animated franchise since the Toy Story series.
Hence, fans of the first two will find a lot to love about Kung Fu Panda 3. Jack Black and an increasing legion of celebrity voice talent gather again for this new adventure, which has Kai (J.K. Simmons), a blade-wielding yak from the spirit world coming to destroy the Furious Five. The only way to defeat him is by using "Chi," a skill only known to pandas. This is when Po meets Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), his biological father, for the first time, who not only brings him to a hidden panda village, but promises to teach him Chi.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is colorful, well animated and features plenty of exciting, family-friendly action with room left for sweet moments and fat baby pandas being...well, fat baby pandas (so the cute-porn quotient is pretty high). Another particularly welcome touch is making the film's villain nearly as amusing as most of the comic relief, and Simmons voices him perfectly. Speaking of which, despite the ever-growing cast of familiar actors, none of it really smacks of stunt-casting (unlike the increasingly pandering Ice Age series).
|The moment someone informs Po what Rocky Mountain Oysters really are.|
So while Kung Fu Panda 3 (or the previous films, for that matter) isn't an animation milestone, you'd be hard-pressed to name too many another franchises that have maintained the same level of consistency through three films. Aside from Toy Story, even Pixar's track record with sequels hasn't been stellar. At the very least, I doubt we'll be rolling our eyes when the inevitable Kung Fu Panda 4 is announced.
EXTRA KIBBLES (mostly of the kid friendly variety):
- 2 Additional Shorts
- Featurettes: "Make a Panda Party Paper Pal"; "The Origin of 'Skadoosh'"; "Gallery of Epic Awesomeness"; "Play Like a Panda" (featuring real pandas)
- Song: "Everybody Loves a Panda Party" (sung by Jack Black to the tune of "Kung Fu Fighting", with a Karaoke version included)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Deleted Scenes with Directors' Introductions
- DVD & Digital Copies
PURR...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS (OR A PANDA BELLY RUB)