The third opus of Kung Fu Panda arrives, almost four years after the previous one. Like the Dragons franchise, the panda likes to take his time, and it shows, given the quality of each film. This new feature film honours this trend and offers a fairly memorable experience, with characters that evolve and themes that appeal to all ages.
The third film is eagerly awaited by young and old alike, although many fear that it will be one chapter too many. Here’s our verdict… with spoilers kept to a minimum, of course.
And re-bellot… or almost
Po is back, and he’s overcome with doubts. “Again!” you will say, but in a rather surprising way, the new chapter of the adventures of Kung Fu Panda succeeds once again in making the character evolve. At the beginning of the film, Po is very (too?) sure of himself, strong of his victory against the evil Lord Shen.
However, his pleasant routine will be disrupted in more ways than one. And these are the hardest trials he’s ever had to face. Moreover, frankness ends up abandoning the “simple” efforts of the discipline of Kung Fu, to leave almost completely in magic and spirituality. One would almost find a scheme of Shônen (action manga, in which the protagonists advance by confronting an enemy each time stronger, and this, throughout the scenario).
A humor that is both pungent and subtle
These adventures are again lulled by the classic humour that has become the signature of these films. In fact, the writing has been clearly refined compared to the last two opus. The jokes are often recurrent (and in this case go in crescendo), and rather subtle. They made more than one person in the room laugh, regardless of age. Afterwards, it is clear that humour is not at a level that will bend you over backwards in your seat either.
However, it is never really used in vain. Every joke, or almost every joke, feeds the character of the characters. They also balance very well with the more serious and/or dramatic moments.
By staging several pandas, the directors and screenwriters took the risk of falling into overbidding. However, they avoid the trap with brio, which results in some rather delirious scenes. Pandas catapulted into the sky, how about that?
The balance between family and “self”
Family is as hard to balance as a plate of noodles on a finger. This is one of the major themes of this film which, in a relatively modern way, tackles the question of torn and reconstituted families. In a very subtle way, we can even see a family with two parents of the same sex being born before our very eyes. Yes, yes, it’s not said out loud, but I stand by it.
Another theme that will speak to adults is the benefits of laziness. To sometimes stop his efforts, to take a breather and simply enjoy life. The passages which go in this direction are very “Hakuna Matata”, without being pointed at with an accusing finger by the film, on the contrary.
Friendships, even if they are present, are almost relegated to the background. Out of the Five Cyclones, only one is really highlighted. Moreover, this little zoom on the character in question, makes it much more interesting and endearing.
As far as morality is concerned, it is multiple. It is partly based on the previous tracks and takes it a little further. It advocates fulfillment and total self-discovery.
Kung Fu Panda Apocalypse
For the antagonist, Kaï, I would say that he is the child that Kratos (protagonist of the game God of War) could have had with Shendu (the dragon with talismans from the cartoon Jackie Chan) and an ox. I’ll give you a moment to digest this image.
Anyway, as you can see, the naughty villain is a big, bad guy.
The film does not, however, seek to take it seriously. Let’s remember that in the previous opus, the two antagonists are relatively impressive, each in their own way. Both are sometimes derided, but they also have their moments “embodiment of evil”. In the second film, the director even managed to make a peacock look intimidating, which frankly deserves applause. In terms of impact on the hero, Kai does not however touch Po as personally as Lord Shen did.
In Kung Fu Panda 3, unlike the previous titles, the villain is ridiculed as soon as possible. This is a rather successful contrast with the great seriousness of the character. In the end, it’s when Kai is away that he’s most terrifying. The threat it represents is omnipresent throughout the film and the fear it causes to the protagonists as well as to the secondary characters is palpable.
A very beautiful fresco
Visually, the film offers a rather varied panel. The computer-generated images are more elaborate than ever (the detail of the pandas’ hairs may seem insignificant, but remains impressive). The characters move fluidly, which helps the action scenes and even the comedy enormously. Not much has changed on this last point, but everything is moving to the next level.
3D is mixed with comic book format editing scenes, which are much more present in this opus. These passages may not be to your liking, but the effort and dynamism instilled in their style is undeniable. This movie is beautiful. Period. All along the way, pay attention to the evolution of the sky: it illustrates very well the atmosphere in each scene. At climax, the film completely unleashes its visuals, giving us an explosion of colour, detail, movement and light effects.
As for the music, it accompanies the action very well. Hans Zimmer is back for the composition, which adds an element of enchantment to the reception. There is nothing wrong with that, although there is not much transcendence there either.
Everybody’s kung fu fighting! ♫
If you liked the first two Kung-Fu Pandamovies, you will like this one. You may even find him superior to others, without stripping precedents of their merit.
The film is beautiful, funny, moving, and deals with themes that will speak to everyone, although adults are a little more served here than before (long live laziness).
It was not specified whether this would be the last opus. The last scenes, however, have a taste of the end of the saga.
Kung Fu Panda 3 has in any case won its bet and proves that a trilogy can be successful without ugly duckling to tarnish its image. The film is not perfect, but is highly recommended to those who enjoyed the first two parts.