As “Kung Fu Panda 2” ended, Po’s long-lost biological father Li realizes, “My son is alive.” So this third installment of the animated trilogy is about Po (voiced by Jack Black) reuniting with Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and discovering his roots in their ancestral panda village, while coping with Kai (voiced by J.K. Simmons), a self-righteous, power-hungry spirit that’s risen from the dead, leading zombie-like warriors. Read on…
Villainous Kai resembles a huge, horned yak bull – and could terrify very young tots, especially in 3D, since he possesses the power to freeze his enemies into stone.
Po’s wise master, the red panda Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), tells him to become a martial arts master, coaching the Furious Five (voiced by Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen and David Cross), saying, “If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.”
Predictably, there’s a natural rivalry between Li and Po’s adoptive father, the goose named Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong). The resolution indicates there’s room for Po’s relationship with both to grow and flourish. And a love interest for Po is introduced by the inclusion of ribbon-dancing Mei Mei (voiced by Kate Hudson).
Scripted by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Burger, supervised by directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni, the landscapes and calligraphy are superbly rendered. This is DreamWorks Animation’s first co-production with their partner Oriental, and the first American animated feature to be co-produced by a Chinese studio.
FYI: Although Angelina Jolie’s character of Tigress has fewer lines in this installment, four of her children supplied additional voices.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is a supernaturally sweet 6, revolving around the concept of forgiveness and family, recommended for children over the age of six.