Kung Fu Panda 4 Brings the Fun with a Cute, if Predictable, Story | Review

Kung Fu Panda 4 has arrived in theaters and we went to see it to see if the story is still good four installments in.

I’ll admit to being a little surprised that a fourth Kung Fu Panda film was made. Considering the original Kung Fu Panda film was released 16 years ago, it’s fair to wonder if Po’s story had anything left to give. Having seen the film in theaters, I can confirm that, happily, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a delight to watch and shows there’s life in this franchise yet.

Set sometime after the events of Kung Fu Panda 3, the story sees Po confronted with the ultimate change: he must choose a successor to be the next Dragon Warrior. Unwilling to choose, Po is thrust into an adventure to take down the Chameleon, a shape-shifting sorceress who is poised to be Po’s most dangerous adversary yet.

Many film franchises tend to start stumbling once they move past a trilogy into a fourth installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Alien: Resurrection being notorious examples. Kung Fu Panda 4 manages to sidestep any potential issues and tells a thoughtful, touching story about how important it is to embrace change in one’s life.

That being said, the film does have one particularly glaring downside: the story is predictable. How predictable? Let me put it this way: I figured out the bulk of the plot, twists and all, 30 minutes into the movie. In almost any other scenario, this would be a terrible situation that would lead to me ripping the movie apart for being so easy to read. And yet…even though the plot is ridiculously easy to figure out, I never felt bored watching Kung Fu Panda 4. It reminded me that predictable is not always a bad thing if it’s fun to watch. I will say though, if the filmmakers want to avoid this issue in future sequels, they really need to switch things up going forward. Even the best franchises can only get away with predictable so many times.

Outside of Jack Black continuing to slay as Po the Dragon Warrior, the absolute highlight of this film is Viola Davis as the Chameleon. You wouldn’t think a little chameleon lizard could be utterly terrifying but with Davis’ voice acting combined with the stunning animation, you will absolutely believe the Chameleon is a credible threat.

It’s true the Furious Five don’t appear in the film except for a brief cameo but the film doesn’t really suffer for their absence. It was nice to see Po partnering up with someone new and I’m actually excited to see what this new character does in future installments.

In conclusion, while Kung Fu Panda 4 doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, it is nevertheless an enjoyable 90 minutes that viewers young and old will enjoy.

Kung Fu Panda 4
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Becky O'Brien
Armed with a PhD. in Musicology, Becky loves to spend their time watching movies and playing video games, and listening to the soundtracks of both whenever they have the time. Can usually be seen writing for Cinelinx though they also do a bit of work for Screen Age Wasteland too. Their favorite superheroes are Batwoman and Spider-Gwen.
kung-fu-panda-4-brings-the-fun-with-a-cute-if-predictable-story-reviewDespite having a completely predictable story, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a delightfully fun time that fans both new and old will enjoy watching. Viola Davis is a delight as the Chameleon and the ending of the story proves that there are plenty of stories left to tell in this franchise.