Kung Fun Panda
I don’t really remember what happened in Kung Fu Panda or Kung Fu Panda 2 but then again, my memory isn’t necessarily to be trusted. One day I was at work and forgot about the minute’s silence in remembrance of World War 2. I proceeded to loudly state “cor… it’s gone deathly quiet in here!?” right in the middle of the office.
Obviously the next few minutes I was silent – assuming if you discount the awkward squeal of embarrassment and sounds of eyes rolling in my direction.
Anyway; the point is that I vaguely remember the first film being decent but the second being awful. I was eager to see the latest offering thanks to its trailer which made number 3 look like a big ball of stupid fun.
In this regard the film met my expectation. The fun doesn’t get any bigger or dumber than everyone’s favourite Dragon Warrior: Po (Jack Black).
Po is a fantastic character. Not only because of his hugabley cute and podgy exterior – an instant hit with younger audiences – but for the enthusiasm and amazement he has for even the simplest of things such as ordering a bowl of noodles.
It’s an infectious optimism that reminds us of when the world still held magic and wonder instead of the face smashing boredom of 9 to 5 work, calorie counting and oven cleaners. It was only for an hour and a half but Po allowed me to view the world with childlike awe and how can that be a bad thing?
Kung Fu Panda 3 really tries to capitalise on this feeling by bringing Po back home to his homeland which is packed full of pandas. Instead of practicing Kung Fu these adorable little buggers practice sleeping, eating dumplings and rolling down hills.
Whilst all of this is certainly adds to the film’s main focus – fun – it is at the detriment of an in depth storyline and character development.
The reason Po heads back to the Panda village is because of the arrival Li (Bryan Cranston); his real dad, but the film only dips its toe into more progressive or mature themes such as the possibility of having two dads or the conflicts that come between parent, child authority and honesty.
Even though Li features heavily in the film he never feels like an important part of the show and therefore underdeveloped as a consequence. The same is also true of Kai (J.K. Simmons) who is Po’s adversary. We learn precious little about who he is or what motivates him.
But that doesn’t matter though. What is more important is some spectacular fight scenes that are brought to life thanks to some stunning choreography and meticulous animation that combines acute attention to detail, vibrant colours and jaw dropping imagining of the spiritual realm.
Jack Black manages to bring Po to life courtesy of his ability to sound genuinely excited by… well; everything! He is clearly having as much fun providing the voice over for Kung Fu Panda as I had watching it. It won’t be a future classic but it is an enjoyable, clean piece of entertainment for all the family. 🐼
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Good family fun
+ Excellent animation
+ Well choreographed fights
– A fairly standard plot
– Doesn’t really develop the characters
– Enemy background underdeveloped