In the midst of a mild identity crisis, Po (Jack Black) is reunited with his long lost father Li (Bryan Cranston) who will prove critical in helping Po overcome Kai (J.K Simmons), a baddie from the spirit world with a fetish for chains.
From the very start, the film aims to visually surpass its two predecessors, and the production design is admittedly stunning. Directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessando Carloni take great joy in setting some of the film’s grandest moments with a background of wonderful colour and construction, which are easily the best looking pieces of animation so far this year.
The film builds on the themes of identity and family raised in the first two movies, albeit without really adding anything new itself; although maybe that is too much to ask from a film featuring a Kung-Fu chicken with knives on its wings.
The direction and storyline do suffer some inconsistency. Some moments catch you nicely off guard, while others are fairly predictable and don’t really get a rise from the audience. The role of Master Shifu has been greatly reduced from the earlier films, just one example of how the film (and franchise) has been simplified to keep younger viewers engaged. Other than the dramatic action sequences, the older audience may switch off and wish they had saved their pennies for Batman vs Superman instead.
The star of the show is Bryan Cranston, who has a ball as the most interesting character by far. When Po needs it, his voice is one filled with reassurance and positivity which really gives off vibes of fatherhood and family. And no, as much as we would like to see it, he does not get Po addicted to crystal meth.
If you have a place in your hearts for the first two films, then what is likely the final outing for Po and Co. will easily satisfy your craving for flabby panda. Otherwise, you will understand what is going on, but there are one too many moments where your interest will take wander elsewhere.
Image: Eva Rinaldi; Wikimedia Commons