As the title kind of hints this is the third in the KUNG FU PANDA series, KUNG FU PANDA 3, is another action filled comedic animated romp with the voice talents of Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman. Music again is provided by composer Hans Zimmer with piano solos courtesy of Lang Lang. As you are aware I am no Zimmer fan, well that’s not exactly true because I do have the utmost respect for what he does and what he creates and achieves as far as film music is concerned, but I do feel that he receives far too much publicity, which I understand he is also uncomfortable with. Well I have to say that I have enjoyed the scores that he and also John Powell have worked on and KUNG FU PANDA 3 in my opinion is probably the best so far, it is a score that obviously has a lot of action cues and is also filled with various light hearted musical references but it also has within its framework some beautifully romantic and ethnically haunting sounding cues. The composer utilising the string section, the aforementioned piano solos of Lang Lang and some heartrending cello performances to purvey an atmosphere that is poignant and emotive. There is also present some nice woodwind solos and the work also contains its fair share of proud sounding brass and horn performances which are inspiring and have a full and rich stature to them. In many ways I have to say that the more robust action pieces did at times evoke the style and sound of Jerry Goldsmith, especially his work on the animated feature MULAN, but there again Goldsmith was a master at creating music that had to it an oriental flavour and aura. What I like about Zimmer’s score for KUNG FU PANDA is that although it is quite action led it never is far away from being comedic and light the composer being able to switch at what seems to be a moment’s notice from big serious and strong too cheeky, impish and fun. The track HALL OF HEROES for example is one such piece the composer infusing a mood of apprehension but then the track more or less erupts into a somewhat madcap affair with Chinese sounding references being enhanced and pushed forward by ample amounts of what can only still be referred to as MICKEY MOUSING, but it works so well. I am not familiar with all the oriental instrumentation that Zimmer employs within this score but there are a number of Chinese sounding passages that range from flat out action in their sound too romantic and highly emotional, the kind of emotional I would like to add that make the hairs on the back of one’s neck stand up. Every track for me was a delight and was also a listening experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Zimmer also employs a heavenly sounding choir on occasion which is laced with lush and luxurious sounding strings and dreamy faraway horns which are in turn bolstered by triumphant brass, this can be heard more prominently in the cue THE PANDA VILLAGE (track number 8) which also has to it a touch of the melancholy, which is purveyed by the use of subtle underlying strings and a delightfully melodic woodwind solo performance, but this is brief and the track soon returns to a more upbeat scenario with the string section carrying brass and percussion through to its conclusion. I also enjoyed track number 9, MEI MEI’S RIBBON DANCE which is quite fast paced and filled with Chinese musical references. Then we are straight away treated to a more robust adventure filled theme JADED (track number 10) which has to it that Goldsmith sound I mentioned earlier. Track number 11, PORTRAIT OF MOM is a heart-breaking cue, piano and woodwind pick out a simple but affecting theme which is then taken on by a mournful but attractive cello solo that is underlined initially by the string section before being overwhelmed by it to bring the cue to its end. No doubt about it KUNG FU PANDA 3 will entertain greatly and it’s one of those soundtracks that I know one will never tire of hearing. New versions also of KUNG FU FIGHTING are included on the compact disc, which too are enjoyable. Recommended. I Can’t wait for number 4, and yes it’s on its way.