Movie Review: ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’
Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter
At one point in media history, Jack Black went from the rocking teacher in “School of Rock” and the lead singer of Tenacious D to being synonymous with martial arts and pandas. “Kung Fu Panda 3” hit theaters this past week, and is the third and last installment in the series.
The last chapter of Po, the Kung Fu mastering panda, begins with the ancient tortoise master from the first movie in the spirit world. After a confrontation between the two, the antagonist makes his way into the mortal world in order to dominate it. Meanwhile, Po is training and is alerted that where in previous movies he was the warrior, now he must become the teacher.
Storywise, “Kung Fu Panda 3” has a much more mystical and supernatural vibe to it than the other movies. Whereas in the first movie the antagonist was an escaped ultraviolent criminal, and the second movie had a warlord with gunpowder weaponry, the third movie deals with an spirit wreaking havoc on the mortal world. That being said, this story arch closes out every loose end the series presented previously. Audiences learn more about Po’s past, and there is a transition into the final stages of each character’s development.
Moving on from this aspect the humor and writing of the movie is spot on. There are a lot of good jokes and visual humor which fits with the series, and even a couple of adult jokes if audience’s catch them in time. However, it being a movie for kids, there is a lot more child humor, which is still funny if not a little predictable at times.
Now, being an animated movie in a series which began eight years ago, the animation for the movie has come a very long way. That is evident by not only the level of quality in the animation, but also the availability or some new stylistic approaches.
Often in the movie the screen will break into comic panels and the animation will change from fully CGI 3D images to a more graphic novel-esque appearance in a 2.5D format. As well, being an action movie, the fight scenes are some of the best in the series and in recent animated movies. Every kick and punch done by the characters has an extremely fluid motion to it, and even though the pacing is fast in fights, it’s easy to see and keep track of who is doing what.
The actors and actresses who lend their voices to these fighting characters do a good job. In previous movies the “Furious Five,” the animals alongside Po who fight with him, did not have much of a speaking role except for Tigress who is their leader. “Kung Fu Panda 3” though, sees a lot more interaction between everyone and it seems more organic than in previous films.
Jack Black also takes stage with Po once again, and he does a good job keeping the spirit of the character. However, one of the aspects of this movie was of “identity” and Po trying to figure out who he is. Left in an identity crisis, Black actually lends himself well into the role and there are genuine feelings of angst and confusion seen from Black’s portrayal.
In regards to the soundtrack of the film, it was superb. Hans Zimmer worked on the soundtrack this time with the help of musicians from previous films, but also with the help of the band “Imagine Dragons.” The main antagonist of the film, Kai, had a specialized theme which was an Asian-styled melody of their song “I’m So Sorry,” which whenever he showed up on screen, played. And, little to say, when that track came on in the movie, there was serious hype.
All in all, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is a fun movie to watch. Its humor and animation are on point, and it will leave longtime fans of the series with a satisfied feeling.
Photo Credit: musicwala