Kung Fu Panda 2 (spoilers), we discover that Po's father and a whole valley full of pandas is out there in the world... setting the scene for Kung Fu Panda 3.
Add to that another powerful villain (who actually feels less fleshed out than the previous two) and Po learning yet another important lesson about himself.
I'm a little conflicted about this instalment to be honest. Of the three the second is still my favourite, and this definitely had it's moments (and was a visual feast, as these movies always are when viewed on the big screen), but it did feel slightly like something we've seen before.
I also felt a little like they squandered some of the potential of the pandas from the way they were shown at the end of the second movie. There seemed to be a something more refined about them in that very short scene, whereas in 3, they're played a little like clowns or kind of stupid... essentially a village full of personalities similar to Po's.
To me, Po works better when he's surrounded by characters who are nothing like him, rather than ones who are.
Having said all of that, the ending of the movie is actually really strong and quite lovely, they're solid voice work from all the usual cast (although Lucy Lui's Viper gets somewhat short-changed this time around... and Jackie Chan's Monkey only ever gets a handful of lines). We also have the addition of Bryan Cranston as Po's father and J.K. Simmons (who was also in Zootopia) as the villain, Kai.
As I mentioned before, Kai feels a little underdeveloped... in the first one you got Tai Lung's quest for revenge of a wrong he felt was dealt to him... in the second you understood Shen's lust for power and more power and more power... this time... yeah, I dunno. Granted his powers were pretty cool, but I couldn't really tell you his specific "why". It did feel a little like they'd just merged the Tai Lung and Shen motivations.
I was also a little surprised to see Kate Hudson's name in the role of Mei Mei (the femme fatale panda), partly because I would have sworn she was voiced by Margaret Cho.
All in all it was a nice enough movie and it rounds out the trilogy (although supposedly there are more coming) fairly nicely. But I still prefer number 2.
yani's rating: 3 dumplings out of 5