By Kaydee Donohoo
It is reasonable to feel apprehensive about seeing sequels. You wonder if a franchise can deliver again when playing with the characters and universe you already love, and you can’t help but compare the new to the old.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” stood the sequel test, and unabashedly delivered. Their secret was having the writers at DreamWorks know exactly what they wouldn’t be able to do again satisfyingly, and they didn’t try.
Remember all of those great father-son feels with Po and Mr. Ping in the second movie? It’s impossible to do again, so they didn’t try to go there. There is no “one scene” like there was before. It happens naturally, and continuously.
Another issue sequels often face is delivering a new villain that is still a threat for the hero who has come farther along in skillsets. It must top past villains, without reaching absurdity.
Kai was a greatly intimidating, well-made villain with catchy theme music. The “final battle scene” also topped the previous movies, in the best unexpected way.
So much of what makes this movie great is riddled with spoilers, but you should know that my face hurt from smiling through most of the film with its many laugh-out-loud moments.
There was also stunning animation, as is expected from DreamWorks. New outfits and settings were a great addition to the visual quality, and I swear even the known places, like the gardens outside the Jade Palace, had an all-new feel and color palette to them.
There also were great messages about being yourself, and trying new things. As Shifu said beautifully, “If you only do what you can do, then you will never be more than you are now.”
Unfortunately, “Kung Fu Panda 3” was done so satisfyingly and tied into such a perfect bow of endings, a fourth movie does not seem likely to me. This is an extremely sad fact to face, but nothing I’m going to let spoil my post-movie ecstasy.