Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 [2016]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars)  RogerEbert.com (3 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing

China Daily Europe (Xu Fan) article
China Daily USA (Ami He) article
Shanghai Daily (Xinhua) article 

CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

Kung Fu Panda 3 [2016] (directed by Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh, screenplay by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger) continue to develop the already wildly successful (world wide) / family friendly Kung Fu Panda franchise.

The current film, a collaboration of the franchise's creator DreamWorks Animation along with its recently created sister company Oriental DreamWorks and the Shanghai based China Film Co. promises even more to detail than the previous two films.  For instance, the "Shangri-la" like "panda village" to which Po (still voiced by Jack Black) is taken by his long lost father Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) after they are reunited in the current installment, is modeled after the temples and topography around Mount Qingcheng [zh.wikip]*[ja.wikip]*[en.wikip] (in central Sichuan Province) both a traditional center for Taoist spirituality and a famous sanctuary for giant pandas today.

Indeed, the attention to such detail makes this series both a nice and fun tool for families to learn about traditional Chinese culture and spirituality.  As I wrote in my review of the previous installment Kung Fu Panda 2 [2011], there are quite a few similarities between Eastern and Christian spirituality including the admonition to not judge by appearance [cf. 1 Sam 16:7], and that "many who are first shall be last and the last shall be first" [Mt 19:30].

As a "homework assignment," I'd encourage families / kids to look-up the Chinese cultural symbolism [wikip] [kfp-wiki] of the various animals depicted in the film (and compare it to one's own).  For all of the animals depicted -- from the Panda (voiced primarily by Jack Black), to the Crane (voiced by David Cross), the Goose (voiced by James Hong) the Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogan), the Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), the raccoon-like Red Panda (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), the Tig(ress) (voiced by Angelina Jolie), the Turtle (voiced by Randall Duk Kim),  the Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu), to the current film's villain the Yak (voiced by J.K. Simmons) -- have traditional, often amusing, Chinese cultural connotations.

All in all, there's a lot in these films to explore, and for reasons that I already expressed in my review of the previous installment, Kung Fu Panda 2 [2011], I'd encourage viewers / their families to do so.  Happy viewing! ;-)

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