Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

Parents may lament the loss of quietly subversive adult-friendly humour that marks out some modern animated movies but this juvenile-orientated funfest still manages to engage the emotions.

Kung Fu Panda 3
Kung Fu Panda 3

Jack Black once again voices Po, the bouncy, underachieving panda in a tale that is geared towards family, friends and future plans. And in this third adventure he must take on the might of a new villain, Kai, a warlord yak (you read that correctly) who has seized the chi of a phalanx of kung fu masters.

The mood shift in this third outing sees Po gravitate to master from student. What’s more the notion of the good guys versus the bad guys is laid on with a trowel. Subtle it ain’t.

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There is a surfeit of talent in this Dreamworks extravaganza that includes Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons (as Kai) and Bryan Cranston as Li, Po’s long-lost blood father.

But none of that will matter to fans of this franchise given that it offers much of the same of what has gone before. The 3D is merely a gimmick here, lending itself to little of import except to brighten an already light-footed and deliberately simplistic fable.

Combining the real world with the spirit world and harking back to aspects of the first two films, Kung Fu Panda 3 also boasts an infectious physicality that uses Po’s appetite – “I always felt I wasn’t eating up to my full potential!” – as a route into riotous comedy.

The truth is that Panda Pt 3 is a cash cow. Parts 1 and 2 took a billion dollars at the box office. Thus this outing draws a line under the trilogy and provides audiences with a three-hankie finale that is as rewarding as it is surprising. Tony Earnshaw