The third chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda series does have the effervescent wit, lighthearted flavour & exciting kung fu action of the earlier chapters but it lacks a compelling story, weighty character evolution & the awareness of where to draw the line, for this latest entry fails to find the near-perfect balance between its genre elements, something that its predecessors excelled at with relative ease.
The story of Kung Fu Panda 3 continues the awesome journey of the Dragon Warrior as we find Po reuniting with his biological father in addition to being bestowed with the role of teacher, following Master Shifu’s retirement. But when an ancient spirit warrior with the ability to steal other warriors’ “chi” returns to the mortal world & hunts the Dragon Warrior, Po travels with his father to their secret panda village to master ways of defeating the enemy.
Co-directed by Jennifer Yuh & Alessandro Carloni, the issue I have with this feature is that its story lacks a coherent structure, it is difficult to connect with any of the characters, for their arcs needed a lot more refinement, and there are plenty of moments that add nothing to the story. The previous chapters were able to find outrageous moments of hilarity in a well-timed & clever fashion but here its attempt at humour feels a bit too forced, needlessly silly & uneven for the most part.
Comedy when done right can amuse both the kids & grown-ups but the filmmakers have chosen to target the younger audience more this time. There are still plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that are done well but for the most part, it neither enriches the overall experience nor moves the story forward. The computer animation is still worthy of praise and retains the rich, colourful textures of past two instalments. Editing is a letdown, for the narrative lacks a smooth, uniform flow. And Hans Zimmer’s score isn’t striking either.
On an overall scale, Kung Fu Panda 3 is an overkill, for its emphasis on desperately finding ways to make its audience laugh ultimately backfires and while it works as a quite relaxing, enjoyable & amusing flick, it fails to duplicate the high scores that the previous chapters garnered in all departments of filmmaking. Certainly not worth the five year wait, exhibiting signs of weariness & marred by lazy writing, Kung Fu Panda 3 fails to properly implement the formula that turned the first two films of the franchise into instant classics right away.