Even the mighty Dragon Warrior is susceptible to the cash flow of a second sequel, Kung Fu Panda 3 makes that abundantly clear. Lambasting Master Oogway by thrusting his tender, hardened corpse into the spirit realm, directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni continue their hatred of that turgid turtle that was first experienced in Kung Fu Panda 2. Outside of swift and severe monetary gains, the spirit warriors of past enemies and legendary fighters strike villainy and horrors into the heart of the Furious Five, paired up with an odd side-story of adoption, brief glimmers of extinction and an abundance of bleak, mediocre stories that trail off with no style in sight.
Po (Jack Black) finally meets his father, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston). Whether or not audiences were truly clamouring for this storyline is not to be questioned, as Kung Fu Panda 3 will storm through this regardless. Bleak and uneventful humour soon follows, as it turns out there is only a set limit to how much Panda-oriented content one can manage. Offering the thought that this film is similar to the previous instalments would be too much of a compliment. Kung Fu Panda 3 look to present nothing new, burrowing its head in the sand and hoping that the copy and paste approach to its story is enough to win over returning fans. In most cases, the results were likely rather strong, even if the decline in quality for the story was steep.
As expected, the animation is superb. Strong as ever, and with the ability to invent so many different locations and styles, it’s a shame the team don’t lean into that more often. Another setlist of conventional locations, with one or two interesting debuts that never return in a capacity beyond disgruntled story device. What once felt like innovation and plucky storytelling has fallen to contemptuous and overly generalised moments of little interest. Cast members that feel as if they’re going through the motions, they know what is expected of them, and simply cannot offer anything more than a barebones level of interest.
Devoid of any unique moments, relying on the bland realities of family drama, following a tangent from the first film that never needed to be followed. A sad and unfortunate end to Po and his chums, although rehashing the tropes and thematics of the first film for no particular reason is an odd choice that will hurt instead of help. Nice animation can only do so much to disguise the relative nothingness of Kung Fu Panda 3. Pockets of generally acceptable quality, but not much else to be delved into, there are odd, fleeting moments where the film seems sick of itself, and after nearly a decade of describing this character, it was a long-overdue farewell to this panda. He has been put to pasture years after his expiry date passed, but it is better late than never.