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Non-Review Review: Kung-Fu Panda III

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Kung-Fu Panda III retains the energy and style that distinguished the prior instalments of the series, even if the emotional beats feel further and further removed from what made the original such a beloved animated classic.

The original Kung-Fu Panda offered a compelling genre mash-up, slotting anthropomorphised animals into a kung-fu action adventure. However, despite the pulpier elements of the plot, Kung-Fu Panda carried a surprising emotional weight. Featuring one of Jack Black’s strongest performances and mining the incongruity of a Panda martial artist for all its worth, Kung-Fu Panda fleshed out and developed its world and its characters with a surprising amount of depth.

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However, that emotional depth faded over the course of the sequels. Kung-Fu Panda II touched on issues related to identity and adoption amid a more generic action adventure, fleshing out Po’s backstory and exploring how he came to be raised by a mongoose. Picking up on the cliffhanger teased in the closing scene of Kung-Fu Panda II, Kung-Fu Panda III finds Po reconnecting with his long-lost father and trying to make sense of his place in the world. However, a lot of its emotional beats feel overly familiar and routine.

Still, Kung-Fu Panda III retains the energy and dynamism of the prior two installments, with a kinetic visual style and a number of visually impressive set pieces. It just feels a bit more hollow than the previous films in the series.

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