As an avid movie goer, I was not disappointed when I recently watched Kung Fu Panda 3 for the first time. The movie itself may be more of a child centric film, but it appeals to the child within all of us no matter how old we are. The lead voice actor, Jack Black, reprises his role as Po the Panda alongside his fellow cast mates Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross and Dennis Hoffman, all of whom are very diverse actors who have had very varied roles, allowing for another level of depth to the characters.
The film has a unique style to it due the range of actors who voice the characters. We often see the film which is a quality that Jack Black seems to bring to much of his other work, such as School of Rock. The movie manages to do this while also being reminiscent of the live action martial arts films from which it takes inspiration, but with a much more family friendly spin on it.
Black’s acting style could often be seen as over-acting and amplifying even the smallest of emotions. This could be derived from his stage presence during his time as a musician, but regardless of its origin it does translate well into the CG constructed world of Kung Fu Panda. This is contrasted, however, by the more serious tone that we get from Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie, both of whom have starred in roles where tension is key to the plot line, but are also known for their iconic comedic moments. Dustin Hoffman for example in Tootsie, a film which is filled with many laugh out loud moments.
While the plot was similar to the previous Kung Fu Panda movies, in that there was yet again a fight against the odds where whoever wins is down to the wire, there was a stronger sense of journey and discovery than in the last two instalments. The usual good guy versus bad guy arc became a sub-plot to Po’s journey of self-discovery, which was filled with as much humour as there was emotion. We are able to see the internal struggle of Po as he tries to learn who he is and where he fits into the world, as he finally meets his biological father, providing deeper insight into Po’s previously less developed character. There was still plenty of action though, along with a new and interesting theme introduced into the martial aspect of the movie, making for an intriguing plot device. However, in my opinion this led to the villain being too over-powered compared to the past two instalments and other films of this genre, leading to the writers to use a deus ex machina to be the saviour of the day. This though, is my only negative thought about the film, as it does detract from the build-up of the plot, which had been developing rather nicely leaving it as an anti-climax script-wise, though not as visually appealing. The computer graphics used as per usual had a slightly cartoonish feel to them while being somewhat realistic, with the inclusion of the oriental style artwork during moments of high emotion being welcomed back.
Overall, Kung Fu Panda 3 was an enjoyable movie to watch. It had some beautiful stylistic moments that have been unique to the franchise and which I hope will continue to be seen in future installments.