Kung Fu Panda 3 (3 stars)

Kung Fu Panda 3

Jack Black returns as loveable panda Po, with a supporting cast that keeps getting better

The heroics of Dragon Warrior Po Ping continue in an eye-popping animated riot of texture and colour. Pity that the script is more humdrum, if pleasant enough for tykes and adults who enjoy time-honoured family film sentiments of love, community and Taoist life wisdom. But since these are served up with frantic action sequences, sight gags, super-cute baby pandas and a stonking voice cast, what’s not to like?

This time out Po (voiced once again by Jack Black, who’s inexhaustibly loveable) is nonplussed to be promoted by retiring Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to the status of teacher-trainer, a development that makes him insecure and more clueless than usual. Simultaneously, dastardly demon water buffalo Kai (JK Simmons!) escapes the spirit world and starts stealing the chi of every kung fu master in China, turning them into an army of zombie jade warriors. By happy coincidence legend has it that the key to stopping him is to be found in the lost village of pandas, and Po is reunited with his lookalike biological father Li Chan (Bryan Cranston!), who can take him there. Po is caught in a good-humoured and really quite touching tug-of-love between papa panda and adoptive father goose Mr Ping (James Hong), as he trains the village of cuddlesome pandas into roly-poly warriors and discovers who he really, really is.

Joining the regulars and Furious Five faves (Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan and David Cross) in the voice cast are Kate Hudson and several of the Jolie-Pitt tribe. But the brightest stars are the host of visual and sound artists who have filled Kung Fu Panda 3 with many charming and stunning effects – from the panda paradise to the cosmic spirit world. While the adventure is not as entirely ‘Awesome!’ as its predecessor, or as its hero proclaims it to be, it is – as he is also fond of exclaiming – ‘Sweet!’

General release from Fri 11 Mar.

Kung Fu Panda 3

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US / China
  • 1h 35min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni
  • Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, David Cross, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Rebel Wilson, Bryan Cranston, JK Simmons
  • UK release: 11 March 2016

When Master Shifu (Hoffman) retires, Po (Black) is nonplussed to be promoted to teacher-trainer; then demon water buffalo Kai (Simmons) starts raising a zombie army and Po is reunited with his dad (Cranston)! Black is as lovable as ever, and with the excellent cast, frantic action, sight gags, cute baby pandas and…