Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie Review: Master of the remake

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Third time around and you may think the gag about a bumbling panda being a Kung Fu master is wearing thin, but no, Po is as entertaining and adorable as ever.

After its darker, more soul-searching predecessor, Kung Fu Panda 3 returns to the big screen with even sharper and more vibrant animation, plenty of good humour and a fun escapade that sees our loveable hero Po (Black) climb ever further up the ladder to enlightenment.

Becoming the Dragon Warrior hasn't changed the good-hearted Po; stopping to take the ancient version of a selfie with his foes, it's clear that though his confidence in his Kung Fu ability has grown, he still retains his charming stoner attitude and dislike of climbing stairs.

Master Shifu's (Dustin Hoffman) latest challenge is to turn Po into a teacher. Initially with limited success, as the long-suffering Furious Five - Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Tigress (Angelina Jolie) are almost wiped out, but made even more necessary when bullish supernatural villain Kai (Whiplash's J.K.

Simmons) returns from the spirit world to defeat all the Kung Fu masters and steal their chi, or life force.

It's up to Po to teach his new found panda family - yes, Po is no longer the only cute panda in town - how to use their unique panda abilities to save Kung Fu and the world.

Kung Fu Panda is the perfect combination of cute animal animation and action film, and is filled with laughs for adults and kids alike. The light tone is balanced nicely against exciting battle scenes played out against psychedelic-looking backdrops in the spirit world and beautifully rendered Chinese landscapes in the valley. All this is topped off with Po reconnecting with his biological father Li (Cranston), and discovering a secret village full of panda relations.

At a snappy duration of an hour and a half, this third episode of Kung Fu Panda will appeal to everyone and, though there's an air of been there, done the makers have taken everything we love about this franchise and freshened it up.

This butt-kicking panda and his mates make up one of DreamWorks' most beloved franchises, and it's easy to see why; it's smart, colourful, easy fun for the whole family.

Cast: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman
Director: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Running Time: 94 mins
Rating: PG (Low level violence)
Verdict: More of the same but nicely freshened up with new characters, slick visuals and lots of laughs.

- TimeOut

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