Kung Fu Panda 3 Voices of Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni. Rated PG. Opens Friday citywide.
Kung fu panda Po has learned to believe in himself so many times, he must be the most self-actualized character in all of cinema. In Kung Fu Panda 3, Po (voiced by Jack Black) once again comes to appreciate how totally awesome he is, and then uses his total awesomeness to defeat an evil villain. Even if it recycles many of the plot and thematic elements of its predecessors, KFP3 is still reasonably entertaining for kids and other fans of the series, with lush animation and fun, likable characters.
This time around, Po must master the traditional Chinese concept of ch’i—which the movie treats like it’s the Force—in order to take down mystically powered bad guy Kai (J.K. Simmons). He also has a bit of an identity crisis after meeting his long-lost biological father (Bryan Cranston) and discovering a secret city of pandas. Returning co-director Jennifer Yuh Nelson continues to mix up the animation styles with some lovely 2D sequences, and the celebrity voice actors put energy and wit into their lines. At this point, there’s really nothing new to discover in a Kung Fu Panda movie, but it’s still nice to see old friends every so often.