After stealing the chi of the Kung-Fu masters in the spirit realm, the obsessive Kai (J.K. Simmons) returns to the mortal realm to take on the one who is destined to destroy him. The trouble is that Po (Jack Black) may be the Dragon Warrior, but he has not yet mastered the use of chi, and his long lost father Li (Bryan Cranston) has finally found him, and the two are trying to forge a relationship for the first time.
Despite the fact that Kung Fu Panda 3 is presented in 3D, it is a beautifully animated, engaging and enthusiastic tale, led by the wonderfully expressive Jack Black. From the first moment we see Po on screen, Black makes the character enthusiastic, engaging and full of energy. It is this energy that carries through the entire film, making Kung Fu Panda 3 the best of the franchise so far.
The rest of the voice cast features Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, Jackie Chan, Kate Hudson, and Dustin Hoffman, and they all bring a sense of fun and life to their roles, making the characters feel real and relatable.
The story, written for the screen by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger has some very important messages for the younger ones in the audience – such as inclusion, acceptance and realising that everyone has their strengths – but the film is also full of silly slapstick, fast jokes and some thrilling action. The script allows Jack Black to show off his skill at improvising, and is sweet and fun.
Director of Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh, is joined by Alessandro Carloni in bringing the film to the big screen. The film is well paced, the voice work enthusiastic and the message strong throughout, meaning Kung Fu Panda 3 is well directed and lovingly put together. The animation is beautifully realised, with the world of the film feeling rich and bright, and a treat to behold. The 3D doesn’t detract from the whole affair too much although, as usual, it doesn’t add much either.
In all, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a richly beautiful film full of enthusiastic and engaging voice work and a fun adventure story with a deeper message. With Goosebumps, Bernie and The D Train in the past few years, this could well be the start of a great comeback for Jack Black; a talented actor who seems to flummox filmmakers as to what to do with him. Certainly kicking off 2016’s animated films with a bang, Kung Fu Panda 3 is fun and sweet, with plenty for adults and kids alike.