China | USA 2016
Opening March 17, 2016
Directed by: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh
Writing credits: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Principle actors: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman
Panda Po is back and still practicing Kung Fu in his native China, which will soon be threatened by a great danger. After spending 500 years in the spirit world, the villain Kai wants to return and takeover the mortal world. Only Po can stop him, but even Po must update his abilities, specifically, he must learn Chi, the energy that flows through all living things. To his great surprise an older panda bear appears and claims to be his real father. This is difficult because his adopted father, a goose, has raised him to be the fine son he is today and now this stranger wants to take him away? There is a conflict, but nothing compared to the greater problem of protecting the country. They all go to a secret panda village, where Po can connect and learn Chi. A village full of pandas is rather tedious – all black and white, even when panda Mei Mei puts on a dancing costume. Luckily, Po’s loyal and quite colorful friends also show up: a snake, a monkey, a tiger, a praying mantis, a crane, and others. Naturally, all ends well with a positive moral to the story: “If you never do more than you can do, you will never be more than you are now.” And the two fathers become the best of friends.
This is part three of an animated series, which first came out in 2008, followed by Part II in 2011. This third version is enjoyable and understandable, whether or not one has seen the prior films. The music is excellent, not surprising, considering that it is composed by well-known German film composer Hans Zimmer and there is piano music by Lang Lang, as a salute to his home country and the site of the film: China. The 95 minutes are perfect for children of all ages. (English voices in animation) (Becky T.)