Kung Fu Panda 4 review: Po is back for an enjoyable new outing - SciFiNow

Kung Fu Panda 4 review: Po is back for an enjoyable new outing

Po is back and he’s fighting against a new foe in Kung Fu Panda 4. Our review…

After three epic instalments, Kung Fu Panda returns for a fourth outing in the franchise, 16 years after the initial release.

In the latest movie, Po (Jack Black back on fine form) is given a task by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to find his replacement as The Dragon Warrior so he can ascend the throne as Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace.

Somewhat reluctant in this appointment, as he knows more about the rapid consumption of dumplings than he does spiritual leadership, he begins his search. After a chance encounter with a wiley fox by the name of Zhen (Awkwafina) he learns of a new foe in the shape (well, some of the time anyway) of a powerful sorceress Chameleon (Viola Davis), who can use her magic to transform into whoever and whatever she pleases. She also has a penchant for Po’s Staff of Wisdom and, in turn, instant access to the spirit realm.

With Zhen in tow, Po heads for the city to do what he does best – kick butt! Not only that but he’s accompanied by a star-studded lineup of cohorts, including veteran James Hong as Po’s goose father Mr. Ping, Bryan Cranston as Po’s panda father Li, Key Huy Quan as the leader of the Den of Thieves, Han and the return of Ian McShane as the formidable Tai Lung.

The storyline is reasonably well thought out with some real belly chuckle gags sprinkled in that will keep both old and young well entertained. However, the sub-plot of the developing relationship between Mr. Ping and Li – Po’s two fathers – seems like an attempt at something deeper in the plotline but instead very much feels like a space filler interlude. Add that to only receiving brief cameo appearances from the Furious Five, and there is a certain sense that Kung Fu Panda 4 could have been more than it is.

The vocal enthusiasm and killer one-liners of Jack Black, the fast-paced action scenes rich in traditional Chinese colour schemes and of course the return of the Skadoosh, really carry the weight of this film but for what it lacks in plotline it certainly makes up for in feel-good factor. This isn’t the best of the four outings but it still guarantees to pass the attention span test and keep all engaged throughout.

Kung Fu Panda is out in cinemas now