Kung Fu Panda 3
Direction: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni
Voices: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston
Po, the portly panda protagonist, is back for another bout of kung-fu related antics in this third instalment (after the 2008 and 2011 editions) of the action-oriented franchise.
This time around, the furry critter (voiced once again by funnyman Black) must hone his martial arts skills to vanquish an enemy from the spirit world.
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The jeopardy now comes from a megalomaniacal yak (dubbed in fearsome tones by the Whiplash Oscar-winner JK Simmons) who steals the chi (life force, for those not familiar with the Chinese lexicon) of legendary warriors in order to wreak vengeance on panda-kind.
Meanwhile our unlikely hero is reunited with his long-lost biological father (Cranston). Embarking on a quest of self-discovery, Po trains an army of fellow dumpling-obsessed fighter bears.
With its colourful landscapes and karate moves, it’s a treat for the kids but will likely prove a little wearying for their adult companions.
In terms of story line and humour …Panda 3 is decidedly lightweight compared to the first two films in the series.
The emotional component, which arrives when Po discovers the truth about his long-dead mother, is glossed over in favour of incessant pratfalls and slapstick shenanigans.
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Many of the returning characters, such as the diminutive mentor (Dustin Hoffman), the tigress (Angelina Jolie) and the adoptive father goose (James Hong), are given little to do and come across as ciphers.
New characters like the flirtatious ribbon dancer (Kate Hudson) fare marginally better.
This could be it; we doubt viewers will want to be subjected to the further exploits of …Panda any time soon.
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