In my recent quick review of a film sequel (Ride Along 2), I made some suggestions as to what the third movie, if made, should/should not do. And I believe the latest installment – KUNG FU PANDA 3 – in the family friendly franchise did some things very right – starting with the return of the original voice-over cast featuring Jack Black as protagonist Po along with co-stars Angelina Jolie-Pitt (Tigress), Dustin Hoffman (Shifu), Jackie Chan (Monkey), Seth Rogen (Mantis), David Cross (Crane), Lucy Liu (Viper), and Randall Duk Kim (Oogway); along with some great additions, including Kate Hudson as Mei Mei, Bryan Cranston as Li, and J.K. Rowlings who voices the new supervillain Kai.
The film starts by introducing Kai and his escape from confinement in the spirit world, and moves to Po and the rest of the Furious Five on their rounds guarding the Valley of Peace before picking up where the second film hinted in its ending – with Po’s father (Li) arriving in the village to find his long-lost son.
Like it’s two predecessors, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is filled with inspiring lessons (on family, community, and acceptance to name a few), plenty of laughs, and – maybe even more than the first two – amazing animation that’s a must see in 3D. And unlike many “thirds” that are made, the film really does stand on its own without feeling overdone or unnecessary.
So you know I took our youngest contributor, and my littlest bestie, Jayla to see this one right? And from the jump, Jayla was not feeling the 3D glasses – she’s three, very opinionated and, when asked if something was wrong with the kids-sized glasses that perfectly fit her face, simply shook her head and stated she didn’t want to wear them. I still wondered if the animation, which again was visually stunning and some of the best I’d seen since I reviewed Rio 2, was simply too much in 3D for her taste. But she really was invested in the movie, even with the slight blur without the glasses, and when the movie ended – before I could even get a word of inquiry formed – she turned to me and said, “That was a good movie!” Yes, the emphasis on good was all hers!
I will say that this 3rd installment, again maybe more than the first two, had some heavier themes, mostly surrounding the spirit world, that I thought were a bit too heady for a preschooler by monitoring Jayla’s reaction – she seemed to need a bit of seat adjusting or respite on her mother’s lap during those sequences. But when Po was faced with the ultimate challenge, (slight spoiler) which occurred in the spirit world, Jayla was certainly tuned in and quietly voiced that she wanted Po to “come back” to his home. Yep, the three-year-old was following this movie quite well and the more school-aged themes hadn’t lost her after all.
Alright family, you know the drill. Stop by and leave a comment or two when you’ve seen the film. Would love to hear your thoughts on this one!
Until next thought, Thomasena
PS – my favorite scene is at the end of the below trailer! By the expression they gave Po (look at those eyes), someone on that animation team must be a fellow cat lover! 🙂
Jayla is MMT’s kid contributor, and Thomasena’s self-described “littlest Gemini bestie.” Her favorite colors are purple and pink, and she enjoys Minnie Mouse and Snoopy.