Kung Fu Panda 3
4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Jennifer Yuh, Alessandro Carloni
scr Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
prd Melissa Cobb
voices Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, JK Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim
release US 29.Jan.16, UK 11.Mar.16
16/US DreamWorks 1h35
Kung Fu Panda 3
My two dads: Po with Li and Ping

black cranston hoffman
See also:
Kung Fu Panda  (2008) Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Kung Fu Panda 3 Easily the best in the trilogy, this film's fiendishly inventive animation is packed with whizzy touches and accompanied by an unusually sharp script. It's a beautifully realised film that finely balances its humour, action and drama. And the story goes both bigger and deeper, meaningfully exploring the importance of both community and self-discovery.

In the spirit realm, power-hungry warlord Kai (Simmons) has collected the chi of every master, so his next target is the mortal world. Meanwhile, panda Po (Black) is struggling to hone his craft, spurred on by Master Shifu (Hoffman) and his five warrior pals (Jolie, Chan, Rogen, Liu and Cross). Then his long-lost father Li (Cranston) arrives, and Po returns with him to the secret panda homeland to learn about himself. But Kai is is burning a destructive path through the mountains, and Po needs to master his chi before he can face him.

The film's pace is snappy, witty and beautifully underscored with powerfully personal themes about the power of finding your place in life. Po's journey is to the very heart of who he is, which is gently engaging and cleverly voiced by Black to balance the zany comedy with strong emotion. Cranston and Simmons are terrific in lively new roles, as is Hudson as a hilariously flirty ribbon dancer. Most of the others are lost in the mayhem, but Jolie and Hoffman have their moments.

Scenes are packed with gorgeous touches, both in the storytelling and the animation, including one stunning sequence rendered like an ancient calligraphic scroll. Indeed, the animators are restlessly inventive, adding clever details everywhere in a terrific collision of strong characters, riotous humour and exhilarating action. There's also an expansive scale to the film that catches the imagination, opening up visual possibilities while finding plenty of resonance as well.

The story springs from a comment by Shifu: "If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now." And where it goes is unusually significant for an animated blockbuster. Intriguingly the silliness is more of an aside in this movie, which has honest moments of anxiety and peril as it builds to a climax that's breathtaking both visually and emotionally. In other words, this is a soaring conclusion to Po's story: no more sequels required. The question is whether the filmmakers can master their chi and resist the studio's pressure.

cert pg themes, violence 29.Feb.16

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