Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the Kung Fu Panda franchise, with a short explanation accompanying each:
#3 – Kung Fu Panda
Though the first of the trilogy is in last place that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad film; far from it. It’s a film about a panda who becomes the chosen one and does kung fu – what’s not to like? It’s a classic with it’s charm, it’s wit and epic villain. Even today the CGI stands up well.
#2 – Kung Fu Panda 2
The second film truly built upon it’s predecessor by keeping the charm and comedy but by injecting more heart and emotion; you truly start to feel for Po and the fact that he was raised by a goose becomes more than just a joke. The villain is also camper which definitely means better!
#1 – Kung Fu Panda 3
It’s a difficult task to wrap up a trilogy and successfully draw from predecessors to wrap up every plot point, yet Kung Fu Panda 3 does it (for me anyway). It continues to be visually stunning and yet again brings the comedy, but the emotion is ramped up to the fullest. Though the spirit realm and sudden introduction of chi may raise some questions which aren’t answered you have to remember that this is a family film and it is thoroughly entertaining. Also, I must add that it made me tear up. Just the fact that Po’s character arc comes full circle and not only does he truly become the Dragon Warrior but he becomes a master, a teacher, a son and a friend. It’s just touching.
I’d like Dreamworks to leave the franchise there, but there are murmurs of a fourth film. Here’s hoping that they don’t tarnish this franchise…