Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Jack Black Faces Off Against Viola Davis In Fun, Satisfying Sequel

Kung Fu Panda 4 finds heart in the DreamWorks franchise despite its tired formula.Jack Black's adorable panda has appeared in three Kung Fu Panda films. Po became the Dragon Warrior against all obstacles. 

Po returns in Kung Fu Panda 4 for a new, maybe more satisfying finale eight years after the franchise looked to end film-wise. Mike Mitchell and Stephanie Stine's latest sequel finds heart in DreamWorks despite a formula that may wear thin.

Fans loved 2008's Kung Fu Panda and its sequel. Kung Fu Panda 3's declining earnings make this new endeavour dubious. After binge-watching all three movies, Po fans will appreciate this one, albeit missing certain favourites.

In a frightening prelude, one of Po's old enemies returns in Kung Fu Panda 4.Po has fully accepted his role as the Valley of Peace's Dragon Warrior and even got a new staff to show it. 

Po still has Master Oogway's staff from Kung Fu Panda 3. Master Shifu (a returning Dustin Hoffman) advises Po to choose a Dragon Warrior to become the Valley's spiritual leader. 

Po rejects the idea and focuses on China's latest threat, the Chameleon (Viola Davis).Kung Fu Panda 4 begins with Po's usual disrespect. He's increasingly sure in his heroism but jokes when given greater responsibility, which upsets Shifu.

Seeing Po refuse to change after constantly learning to change is exhausting.Kung Fu Panda 4 improves him, but it says he's mostly done. Luckily, Black still loves Po and voices him. 

His credits cover of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" is especially noteworthy.As with prior films, Kung Fu Panda 4 features a great voice cast. The Furious Five, Po's warrior companions, are missing, which is sad. 

However, the film attempts to fill in holes. Returning characters Li (Bryan Cranston) and Ping (James Hong) have their own plotline as Po's dads bond over his safety, resulting in lots of chuckles. 

The reappearance of Ian McShane as Tai Lung, the first film's villain, is fortunately fulfilling.Po spends much of his time with Zhen (Awkwafina), a skilled thief, instead of the Furious Five.

They meet as Zhen is trying to plunder the Jade Palace, and Po recruits her in his fight against the Chameleon since she has critical information. 

Their competing egos make for a fascinating, but predictable, dynamic; one character reveals Zhen's ending. Po as a mentor is great, especially because Shifu is amusing and out of the way.

Other Kung Fu Panda 4 characters are good, but Davis is the best villain. Davis appreciates playing villains with deep, interesting voices after playing one in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes last year.

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