Kung Fu Panda Kicks into Theaters

Alyna Kim, Feature/Opinion Editor

   Kung Fu Panda 3 flipped into theaters in a flurry of awesome music and fluid martial arts visuals, tied together with a classic family-friendly storyline.

   Stars Jack Black (Po), Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Dustin Hoffman (Master Shifu), Jackie Chan (Monkey), Lucy Liu (Viper), Seth Rogan (Mantis), David Cross (Crane), Randall Duk Kim (Master Oogway), and James Hong (Mr. Ping) reprise their roles.  The team bands together to defeat new villain Kai, a banished spirit warrior played by J.K. Simmons.  Bryan Cranston plays Po’s father (Li Shan), the mystery figure who made a brief appearance at the end of Kung Fu Panda 2.

   Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Panda 2, also directed Panda 3 with Alessandro Carloni.  Hans Zimmer returned to provide the energetic and moving score for the movie.  The movie grossed $314 million worldwide as of February 29 and is currently the top grossing animated feature in the Chinese market.  Rodolphe Guenoden, animator and martial arts practitioner for over 20 years, headed the storyboarding for the fast-paced, epic martial arts sequences seen in the film.

   The visuals in Panda 3 took on a different style from its previous incarnations, focusing on flat figures mixed with the standard three-dimensional models used for the majority of the film.  Combined with Zimmer’s magnificent score, the audience was left wide-eyed at every action sequence.  Every quirky moment, from Po rolling and crashing through the landscape to his misguided training session, possessed its own enchanting track.

   Although Panda 3 did not add anything new to the franchise story-wise, the message, “Be the best you you can be,” still left the crowd in high spirits.  It held onto and resolved the residual familial distress from the previous movie, where Po learned of his adoption and lost birth family.  At the same time, the characters grew in their own ways, bringing an understanding of progress, family, and self to the forefront of the movie.

   Panda 3 seemed very much like a reiteration of the original Kung Fu Panda, right down to the Wu Xi Fingerhold, the blank scroll mystery, and the message at its core.  However, it plays well-known tropes well to create a good family movie alternative to the action moves and romances that came out in February.  The slapstick humor and silly wit trademark in all the other Kung Fu Panda movies remained strong throughout this one, even when the battle shifted from the mortal realm to the awe-inspiring Spirit World.

  Overall, Kung Fu Panda 3 provides solid family entertainment and rounds out the previous two chapters with ease, awesomeness, and humor––all the ingredients necessary for a hearty movie experience.