Kung Fu Panda 3, film review: ‘Sentimental without making you sick’

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda - Credit: Archant

Dreamworks animation may not have the class or invention of Pixar or Disney, but they rarely fail to deliver fun.

With Kung Fu Panda they created a character that lived out the audience’s fantasy – the nerdy fan that becomes the hero, and becomes the hero without having to relinquish his nerdy fan qualities.

With this third installment, Jack Black’s Po surely supplants Shrek as their most beloved character.

The two though are opposites. Shrek was their breakthrough figure, the one that gave them a strong separate identity: he was the great debunker, the derider, the sender-upper of all the stodgy Disney traditions.

Kung Fu Panda is a rather humble and sincere homage to Kung Fu movies.


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It is filled with the kind of wholesome homilies about being yourself and that everybody has value) that Disney used to wedge into any film. In many ways it is quite sentimental but your barely notice; it does sentiment, but without making you sick.

In fact, it makes soppy cliches seem like profound and rather moving ideas.

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One of Dreamworks strongest attributes is knowing how to exploit a successful idea, while ensuring the audience retains the majority of their initial enthusiasm for it.

No 3 is no great break from what has preceded it, but moves things along just enough to avoid feeling lazy or complacent.

The Furious Five are largely sidelined as the focus is on Po discovering his real father (Cranston) and Mr Ping (Howe) who raised him. Much of the story takes place in Panda Shangri-la hidden up in the mountains; the film’s most cynical move, upping the “Ah Cute” factor.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

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