"Kung Fu Panda 3" is the third installment in the surprisingly enjoyable "Kung Fu Panda" franchise and it's about Po reuniting with his father along with a village of other pandas while also having to deal with the threat of a power-hungry villain by the name of Kai, and now Po, the Furious Five and other old and new characters have to put a stop to Kai's plan.
This is a franchise that's truly surprised me. I really like the previous two films for being fun, humorous, well animated, and telling engaging stories revolving around Po and his journey in mastering Kung Fu. When it comes to an animated franchise with Jack Black voicing a panda, it really doesn't get anymore surprising than that and I'm really glad to say that this movie is just as solid as the other two and completes the trilogy in a satisfying fashion.
The voice cast for this series has really impressed me with every installment. You have the likes of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, and Jackie Chan, all returning from the previous films and doing every bit as good in this movie as they did in the previous films. New cast members include the talent of Bryan Cranston and J. K. Simmons, two actors who could've easily done this movie in a half-ass fashion just for a paycheck, but the both of them, like the other cast members actually gave very strong voice performances and you could tell they were giving it their all in terms of bringing these characters to life. I love when seemingly ridiculous concepts like in this series can actually be brought to life and energized with a talented crew, in this case it being the cast of voice actors.
This movie is also able to successfully create visually pleasing and exciting Kung Fu action sequences. It's very strange to hear that about an animated movie about anthropomorphic animals, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a lot of passion involved in the fighting scenes. You can tell that the creators actually seem to care about displaying the art of Kung Fu for people to see, specifically a younger audience who can get easily attached to a movie like this. Not only is it artful animation in terms of the beauty of the fighting style, but also in creating just plan entertaining action for people to enjoy, both young and old.
As an animation, this movie also has the challenge of having to appeal to a demographic that expands beyond just little kids. Young Children will definitely appreciate this movie for many reasons, but I believe that a much older audience can enjoy this movie as well. This movie deals with stuff like family and loyalty, themes that can strike a chord with most anyone and it doesn't hold back in some parts. This movie has emotional heft to it and I actually recall at least a few adults in my theater making sobbing noises in some of the more impactful scenes. That's exactly what an animation should do in my minds.
If I have on flaw with this movie, it's the villain, Kai. Again, J. K. Simmons does a solid job in the role and he certainly looks great as far as animation goes, but the motivation didn't feel quite on par in my opinion. I loved the villain in "Kung Fu Panda 2" for being a good mix of funny and menacing while also having a great backstory, but Kai honestly felt more like a retread of Tai Lung from the first film. He's functional as a bad guy who gets the plot moving, but you still want a little more in terms of motivation and personality.
Overall, I really liked "Kung Fu Panda 3" a lot. The animation is great, the voice actors all do a good job, it's emotional, and it's entertaining for virtually all ages. I don't know if there are currently any plans for future installments, but if not, then I'd be perfectly fine with the series ending here. It's one of the better animated franchises we have right now and I personally see it as a solid trilogy that tells its story very well.
Rating: Full Price!