This time of year, the number (and quality) of animations isn’t very high and original and memorable characters are hard to come by. So, it’s nice to know that “Kung Fu Panda 3” can be the go-to animation this winter, with its adorable lead character, a fun story, and beautiful visuals that take the film to new heights.

Po (voice of Jack Black) is continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness” and is now faced with two dilemmas. One is the sudden and unexpected appearance of his biological father, Li (voice of Bryan Cranston) and the other is battling the villain Kai (voice of J.K. Simmons), who has escaped from the spirit world after stealing Grand Master Oogway’s (voice of Randall Duk Kim) chi and is now intent on stealing the dragon warrior’s chi in order to become the most powerful being.

Mr. Ping (voice of James Hong) is a bit perturbed that Li has returned because now he’s in battle to prove that he is Po’s true father, regardless of biology. Also, Master Shifu (voice of Dustin Hoffman) and his friends (Angelina Jolie Pitt, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross) must help Po defeat Kai before all of their chis are stolen.

Before everything else, the cinematography is absolutely fantastic. The filmmakers have definitely upped their game and the scenes in the spirit world especially are beautiful beyond words. The voice cast is, as usual, on point, and the addition of new characters, like Po’s biological father, makes the film stronger than it otherwise might have been. The argument over who is really Po’s dad and the bit of rivalry between Mr. Ping and Li are nice touches and teach that it’s ok to have two fathers and that there is room for both in Po’s life. One doesn’t cancel the other.

“Kung Fu Panda 3” is very well done, the characters fun, and the fight that Po has to handle, both personal and otherwise, make for an enjoyable animated feature that teaches good lessons, while still remaining entertaining. The film’s biggest strength is in its visuals, which are used to upgrade the narrative from average to above average and makes “Kung Fu Panda 3” a film for all ages.

3.5 star

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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