Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 - Movie Review: Be Yourself





My four year old loved it. Shouldn’t that be enough information for the entire video?
Kung-Fu Panda 3, starring Jack Black and a host of other extremely talented actors who lend their voice to the property. The third movie in the franchise is similar to the other two. Poe finds his faith in himself somewhat lacking. He learns something and grows to overcome the villain he is facing. My thoughts on this is are, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. The story was still entertaining, the fight sequences fantastic, and the comedy, for the most part, had me laughing throughout.
The voice acting talent for these movies is outstanding. Jack Black again does a great job as Po. Newcomers Brian Cranston and JK Simmons are fantastic as well. The rest of the crew who return all do good jobs. The only compliant I have with all three movies is that the monkey, voiced by Jackie Chan, seems to always get short end of the stick. It did seem he may have gotten a few more lines in this movie than the other two, but it still is less than any other. It also seemed that Seth Rogan got more lines this go around since his star is shining a bit brighter at the moment. Angelina Jolie is always the interesting one to me. It never quite sounds like her, but the voice fits the character perfectly. Character and animation for Tigress are perfect.
The animation overall is really well done. They mixed in some flashback 2d looking animations as they did in Kung Fu Panda 2, and they work for the movie. Everything is top notch and it is what I have come to expect out of DreamWorks Studios. The introduction and feel of the spirt realm is handled very well and I enjoyed the scenes they created for the world. DreamWorks may not be Pixar, but they come very close. They don’t try to dumb down the stories too much for kids.
There is a message to all of the Kung Fu Panda movies. Do the films hit you over the head with it a bit, yes, but that for me is where the kid’s part comes in. They want kids to feel like they can do anything, and to be comfortable with who they are just the way they are. Celebrate the things you are good at, embrace them, and work hard to do better at them. The overriding theme of the Kung Fu Panda movies is to accept yourself as you are. I like the message, and even though they have basically told slightly different stories to get the same point across I still enjoy it.  I watched the first two films leading up to this one with my four year old and he enjoyed them all. Was he more excited and enthralled by the action and the comedy?  Yes, but once he gets a few years older the message will sink in as well.
The only part of the movie which missed at times for me was some of the comedy. I get that I’m not the overall target audience for the jokes, but they just seemed to go back to the well one to many times with the same bit. There is one joke with Tigress which is way overplayed. It was cute and I chuckled the first time, but they should have left a few callbacks out. Then some of the other gags just didn’t hit for me, and most of the audience in my theatre didn’t laugh either, even the kids. That is not to say there isn’t funny parts that had me chuckling and had my son laughing hard, there is, it’s just for me the comedy was the weakest part of the movie.
The ending however was strong and touching. The main theme is drilled home here, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. Poe does do something during the end which did take me out of the movie though. At first I was thinking that they should have left it out of the movie and stayed with the same and tone up until the end, but this would have been out of character for Po. You can’t have a movie about being true to yourself, if the main character doesn’t stay this way. It did jar me while watching, but I like the choice after thinking about it, because it is how Po the Panda would react in the situation. Yes I do in fact realize I’m breaking down character decisions in an animated movie about a Panda who does Kung-Fu.
If you have children then Kung Fu Panda 3 is well worth seeing. Check it out in theatres with your kiddos and have a fun time. If you don’t have kids then it is not a film you have to rush out and see. I think most everyone will enjoy it, but it is not a movie that is going to revolutionize animation or tells a story so captivating that it demands attention.
Did you see Kung-Fu Panda yet? Did you like the other two movies? If you have kids and they have seen it, what did they think? Comment and let me know

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