Kung Fu Panda 3 begins with Po the panda no longer a clumsy apprentice, but a formidable warrior in search of his true self.
To me, sequels are the hardest movies to make. Where is the balance? How much of the original do you rehash without getting dreary? How many new developments do you add without compromising the original? In a rare example, Kung Fu Panda 2 found this delicate balance. In that episode, we see a maturing Po. There was also substantial and progressive development in the key supporting characters. I remember watching part 2 and thinking, wow, they got this one right. I felt it deserved its Oscar.
The same formula is applied to Kung Fu Panda 3. Yet somehow, it no longer appeals as much. Maybe it’s the incessant lazy panda jokes, which are no longer charming or even believable, given Po is very much the equal of Shifu and the Furious Five. Or maybe it’s the bland antagonist, who has no other ambition except to conquer the kung fu world. Overall, Kung Fu Panda 3 feels to me to be an extended story arc of a spinoff animated series. You know, those story lines that last four episodes instead of twenty minutes. Not to say this is not enjoyable. There are still laughs. It’s just not memorable. It certainly also discourages my support for a part 4.
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