Monday, 1 February 2016

Kung Fu Fighting: Movie Review Kung Fu Panda 3

The minions have been fans of Kung Fu Panda, Po, and The Furious Five for as long as they've been watching TV (so for about two years now).  They were so little when they first fell for the movie that Jack professed his love for the movie by telling me about how he wanted to learn "Kung Food" when he was older.  Despite us feeling pretty lukewarm about Kung Fu Panda 2, we decided to head out to the theatre to check out the third movie in the trilogy after the kids excitedly clamoured about the movie posters all over the city featuring Po.

Kung Fu Panda image courtesy of Forbes.

What's in it for the Kids?
This movie seems to be aiming at getting the laughs and attention from the kids instead of trying to reach out to the adults by offering dual level comedy.  There are wonderful family related themes in the trilogy's messaging surrounding parental roles when Po discovers he has two dads.  Also, there are super cute, cuddly pandas everywhere!  Parental warning, this is a Kung Fu movie, so there is a lot of fighting, as well as some exploration into life and death in "the spirit realm".

What's in it for the Adults?
Like all Kung Fu Panda movies adults can appreciate interesting fight scenes and alluring animation depicting the nature, landscapes, and cityscapes in this imaginary version of an ancient China based universe.  The voice work of Kate Hudson as Mei Mei, the raucous and over-confident, ribbon dancing panda is a solid and entertaining addition.  Celebrity favourites Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, and Dustin Hoffman all reprise their beloved roles, and Bryan Cranston joins the cast as Po's long lost father Li.

Best Parts of the Movie
This movie got a lot of laughs from the kids.  I saw this movie with children aged four to nine and they were all thoroughly chuckling and jumping out of their seats during particular scenes. It was nice to see a focus on the lighter side of Tigress (Molly's favourite character) and having her work alongside Po, being forced to take a less active role in strategy, yet remaining a solid ally, strong, and confident, female role model.

Worst Parts of the Movie
I love JK Simmons (AKA the dad from Juno, and Vernon Schillinger from Oz), but he really seemed to phone in the villain role of Kai.  It felt like he couldn't decide on playing the bad guy a little bit funny or totally bad ass, and it really took away from the impact of his role.  There was a pretty significant dip in the plot about half way through the movie, and I nearly nodded off for about ten minutes, but then it clicked back in full throttle for the rest of the movie.

Overall Rating
I would rate this movie 3.5/5.  It's a lot better than Kung Fu Panda 2, and almost as good as the original film if you're a kid,   When asked about the best parts of the movie Molly said "everything" (as she's prone to do) and Jack said he liked Kai best (so maybe my thoughts on JK Simmons as Kai are off base from a child's perspective). I asked the minions if they wanted to own the movie they both provided a definitive yes.  Worth watching, particularly for the kids.

To read about villains and the ways they fit into a child's moral development of black and white issues click here.

To read my review of Inside Out click here.

To read my review of the 2015 Cinderella click here.

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