There are no spoilers in this Kung Fu Panda 3 movie review, so read on without worry. If you are looking for a family friendly movie to see this weekend you are in luck! On Friday, January 29th Kung Fu Panda 3 releases in theaters nationwide in 3D. A movie made for all ages, especially the older ones who refuse to grow up, Po and the Furious Five are back to protect the Valley of Peace. A few weeks ago my family was invited to see an early screening of Kung Fu Panda 3 and I also had the opportunity to interview the co-directors of the movie, read on for the Kung Fu Panda 3 movie review and inside scoop you’ll only see here!
Kung Fu Panda 3 stars notable actors Jack Black, as the voice of Po, the lovable, silly Panda…and fierce Dragon Warrior! After the great success of Kung Fu Panda, and Kung Fu Panda 2, the entire voice cast came back together for the unforgettable story of “being the best you.” Much to the initial disappointment of Mr. Ping (Po’s adopted father), Po is reunited with his long-lost panda father, Li, – and an entire village of Pandas that “look just like me, but bigger, older, younger…”. Li and Po travel to the secret Panda Village where he must do the impossible – the student must become the teacher and teach the entire Panda Village to become “the best you that you can be” to stop the supernatural villain Kai before he sucks the chi (super powers) out of all the Kung Fu masters across China. Po learns what it’s like to be a panda, “being the best me”, and most of all what it really means to have the support of family beside you.
In Kung Fu Panda 3 we are introduced to many new and amazing characters. The main ones are Kai, the new villain who had been banished to the Spirit Realm by his old friend and partner Master Oogway – Kai is now seeking revenge and to take the chi of all the Kung Fu masters everywhere. Then there is Li, Po’s dad. Li is like an exact copy of Po, in every way, shape and form – there is no mistaking that this is his real dad. But the character I am most excited about is Mei Mei. Voiced by Kate Hudson, Mei Mei is an irresistible, confident, and unapologetic Panda who doesn’t take no for an answer. If you’ve enjoyed Tigress, you are going to LOVE Mei Mei.
Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim
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Interview with Alessandro and Jennifer – Co-Directors
I had a chance to sit down with the co-directors of Kung Fu Panda 3 and ask some questions. Meet Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh, both of whom have been with the Kung Fu Panda franchise since the beginning.
Q: What are some of the technical advances to the production since the first Kung Fu Panda?
Jennifer: There were a lot. Simply because of the server power (computer crunching power), we had the ability to create entire sets instead of just a couple of building. In the first KFP we had to reuse two rooftops, this time we were able to make entire sets. The entire Panda Village was practical, you could wander inside and outside of all the buildings as a virtual set. There was more freedom with the choreography, fight scenes and story telling because of this.
Alessandro: With the new software we were able to almost touch the virtual character, almost like painting a shape.
Q: Where did the inspiration come from in creating Kai?
JY: Because we’ve already had two villains before, we wanted to make sure he was different and a step even more extreme. We wanted him to be bigger physically and supernatural. He has that chi sucking ability.
AC: : We created him to be a little bit insecure too. He becomes petty and bitter when no one recognizes his name, he is relate-able as a broken character.
Q: What kind of research was done for the set locations?
JY: The Panda Village is based on a place in China. There is this beautiful green mountain, and you are going through a muddy path, and layers of mist, you see these shelters that look like they are made of organic wood and covered in moss. As we walked through this mist wall, the mist cleared and we saw the main buildings at the top of the mountain. Those are the same shots we put in the film.
AC: The spirit realm. In the first KFP movie Po becomes a Dragon Warrior, so the spirit realm visualization came from this reference point in his dream.
Q: How many people did it take to create the movie?
AC: The entire crew is over 600 people. It all starts from paintings. It’s all very labor intensive.
JY: It feels real but its not realistic, which is a lot harder than doing a realistic film.
Q: Did you anticipate the way that the KFP franchise has caught on?
JY: We have to believe in it ourselves and if its exciting for us, its helpful. But we never know how audiences will respond. You just hope that people will like the characters.
AC: I think we knew we had something special with Po – his charm, his naivety, and childlike enthusiasm make him a lovable character.
Q: When did you find the inspiration of “being the best you” to take on the 3rd film?
AC: We took a mental break by working on some other projects. The concept of being the best you is an underlying thread throughout all the movies. Po becomes a better version of himself as he grows through the movies. The plot element of the student becoming the teacher came on a bit later in the process.
JY: Once we got the idea about 4 years ago, we started on it.
Q: Some of your biggest fans are adults. What role does that play in your story lines? What percentage is written for adults vs kids?
JY: I think its even split. There are jokes that work for a five-year old and some that work for a 40-year-old. They are sprinkled throughout the movies fairly evenly. We are making the movie to entertain everyone – we want to make ourselves laugh. Although having the mental age of a five-year old does help us.
AC: Some of us in this business are not mentally mature. I still have the mind of a 12-year-old and I still get geeky. Hopefully the mindset among the adults that like this franchise are accepting that deep down they are still big kids. And those that are not are just denying it.
JY: Po as a character truly embodies the sense of wanting to grow up but never letting go of his childlike love for things. Po represents both the actual child and the adult that doesn’t want to grow up.
Q: Do you consider yourself a role model for young girls?
JY: It’s weird because I didn’t think so, because doing the job is just that. It only recently hit me when I started visiting schools and seeing how much it affects girls. They don’t see anyone doing this job that looks like them, only 1% of directors are women.
Q: What made you bring in a second strong female character and do you see a spin-off coming?
JY: This is the first time Po gets to meet a girl panda. Shes fun and fully confident, she doesn’t need Po to like her. We wanted a character that girls would say I want to be like her. It really depends on how much people like her and clamor for her.
AC: She’s extremely confident and sure of herself, but she’s not obnoxious. Shes truly likable.
Q: KFP 1 and 2 were nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. What was put into Kung Fu Panda 3 that will bring home the award?
AC: Baby pandas?
You can follow Alessandro Carloni on Twitter at @AleCarloni to stay up to date with what he’s working on next!
RUN TIME: 95 minutes
Thanks for checking out my Kung Fu Panda 3 movie review. Be sure to share it and get social with Po using #KungFuPanda!