This week, “Kung Fu Panda 3” chopped its way into theaters. Following the success of its two predecessors, the movie sets a predictable, but mostly enjoyable tone.
The film centers again on the Kung Fu panda master, Po (Jack Black). Po is still the goofy, bumbling character of the past films, but this time, it’s Po’s turn to become the teacher. Tasked with leading the rest of the Kung Fu masters in the way of the craft, Po finds himself not up to the job of being a leader.
On the heels of Po’s struggle with his own insecurities as a teacher, he is also faced with the life-changing event of the reappearance of his biological father. After meeting and bonding, Po’s father, Li (Bryan Cranston), takes Po to the secret panda village hidden away in the mountains. While there, Po is able to connect with the roots he never knew he had.
While Po is finding out more about his past, the rest of the Kung Fu masters are dealing with a threat from Kai, an ominous Kung Fu bull that has escaped from the spirit world and is out to steal everyone’s chi. Soon, Po becomes the only hope to stop Kai from succeeding and destroying the rest of the Kung Fu masters.
Jack Black was perhaps born for the role of the Kung Fu panda Po. Though I’m not the biggest fan of his acting, there’s no denying he is perfect for this role, and does a great job bringing the character to life.
The rest of the cast is similarly star-studded, though many did not get enough screen time to make a mark. One star in particular who I believe deserved a larger role was Kate Hudson as Mei Mei, Po’s sort-of love interest. Her confident ribbon twirling and bold flirting made for one of the more memorable scenes in the movie, but it was unfortunately one of her only scenes throughout.
The animation in Kung Fu Panda was one of the most impressive aspects of the film. Every scene was bursting with color and scenery, most memorably the classic movie montage scene of preparation for battle, this time between Po and the rest of the pandas he must train.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is not a heavy watch; it’s much the opposite. The movie is pretty clearly made for a younger audience, but it still provides a low key viewing experience for an older crowd. It’s chock full of valuable lessons for impressionable youth and a mixture of jokes that’ll make you cringe one moment and chuckle the next.
Overall, it may not be a groundbreaking piece of cinema, but it’s a nice, easy watch if you’re looking to pass an afternoon.