A third instalment in the Kung Fu Panda series wasn’t exactly something I was highly anticipating this year. I enjoyed the original and I remember nothing of the second film (never a good sign). I am therefore pleased to report that Kung Fu Panda 3 is a lot of high kicking family fun.
When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas.
Kung Fu Panda has always dealt with the discovery of self. This film is no different Po faces his past to reconcile the circumstances he faces in the present. The initial meeting between Po and his father is one of the stand out moments. Their bumbling nature and lack of smarts are hilarious as dumbstruck villagers look on.
A stellar voice cast are in top form and in particular J K Simmons as bad guy Kai has gone straight into my top 5 cinematic bad guys. This a bad guy who is a threat, who is an intimidating presence and still has some great comedy moments all of which are carried out perfectly.
Beautiful animation, plenty of laughs meant that both I and my daughter had a great time. Kung Fu Panda 3 is a perfect family popcorn guzzling day out at the cinema and sometimes that’s all you need.
Let’s be honest. It was always going to be a struggle for The Good Dinosaur. In normal circumstances 2 Pixar movies in a year would be a real treat. However when one of those films is Inside Out the film following in it’s footsteps was always going to underwhelm.
To be clear that is not The Good Dinosaur’s fault there are plenty of things to like within the film however they just fall a little flat.
The world of the Good Dinosaur is one in which the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs on Earth missed it’s intended target and left us a world of talking dinosaurs and neanderthals in the animal role. Arlo is our hero, fearful, shy but determined to win the respect and admiration of his family.
Following an unfortunate event Arlo is sent off on a road journey with only Spot the neanderthal irritant for (unwanted) company. Arlo is left to find his way home in a world which forces him to face his many fears head on.
This movie is many things. It is a movie about family, a movie about overcoming your fears and a road trip/ buddy movie all rolled into one and this may be the biggest problems the movie has. The film never clearly determines which of these is the true focus and this sadly means that none of the elements mentioned get the full attention of the creators.
Another issues for me was the film being set within a strangely adapted Wild West movie frontier. This does allow for some wonderful animation particularly in the surrounding almost real life scenery. It also however means that the film has wild west related distractions, for example T-Rex’s almost pretending to ride horses like cowboys in one sequence is particularly odd.
All in all there are things to like about the Good Dinosaur but I think the title is itself an indicator of how Pixar may feel. This is The Good Dinosaur it is not sadly The Great Dinosaur.