The first official English language trailer for Kung Fu Panda 3 is finally here, and it looks about as charming as the series has ever been. The first Kung Fu Panda (released in 2008) provided a whimsical blend of parody, homage, and deconstruction in its capitulations to the traditional hero’s journey. It’s one of the better films to be produced by Dreamworks Animation from the past decade, and the sequel strove to do something even more daring than the original, and proved a worthy follow up (if not as effortlessly great). The initial trailer for Kung Fu Panda 3, which featured the Chinese audio track (and has since been pulled from Youtube), went into more detail about the ideas of legacy and lineage, whereas the first official English language trailer offers a brief look at two action sequences featuring Po and the Furious Five, before cutting to Po and his father in a deadpan comedy setting that made me laugh out loud in a Coffee Bean (I regret nothing).
The real surprise of each prior entry in the series has been the villains, who have heretofore ranked among the very best movie villains in their respective years of release, and not just in animation. When you have Ian McShane as a vengeful tiger, or Gary Oldman as a peacock warlord, you’re bound to make waves. We were offered a brief look at the film’s big baddie in the Chinese language trailer, but Kai, who will be voiced by J.K. Simmons, is nowhere to be seen in the new teaser (hopefully Po can keep up with his tempo next year).
It’s been five years since the release of Kung Fu Panda 2 (released in 2011), but with any luck, audiences will still flock to see Po as he continues his journey to master kung fu. Given the January release date, one can only hope they’re attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the franchise, and not surreptitiously dropping a critical bomb.