Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Reviews
This is the main negative point for me, yes the film is of course for the kids but there is little here for the adults this time. The last films had touches of comedy or visual moments that a grownup could smirk and giggle at, this new adventure really is a kiddie playground.
The visuals are amazing but is that a surprise? Most animated films these days are amazing looking and offer something quirky in styles. Despite the visuals being this films strongest point they haven't differed to much from the last two films, of course its all sharper, bolder, slicker and brighter but all the characters still seem some what bland and generic. My first impression was the fact that the circus characters kinda look like the characters from 'Kung Fu Panda' just nowhere near as stylized.
That said the circus characters are a breath of fresh air and do look nice. Vitaly the Russian tiger is a grand looking fellow and visually striking...trying not to mention Tigress from...oops!. I also must confess to finding Gia the female jaguar character rather sexy, is that wrong?. Hmmm probably is but damn it she is!! the soft slinky body form, the eyes and that voice!! had to slap myself across the face a few times.
The other issue for me with this whole franchise is the off the wall craziness of it all. The animals act like humans and seem to be able to perform human activities without much shock from onlookers. There is also much silliness such as the old lady character who fights Alex the lion etc...the franchise starts off OK but gets more and more surreal as it goes.
This film goes for broke as the animal characters go totally haywire to the point where you forget they are actually animals in our world, so to speak. There isn't much differentiation between animal or human, not that it will bother the target audience and this is an animated kids flick but I'm picky about these things.
The circus aspect is a welcome sight as the corny thought of the animals running around various famous European landmarks didn't bode well. All the circus sequences are lovely to watch in their ultra neon glory, haven't seen any traditional circus stuff like this since 'Dumbo' methinks. The original four main characters are now quite dull but the circus guys give a much needed boost, but its still the old penguins that save the day although not at their best this time.
Does make you wonder why the franchise is still called 'Madagascar' seeing as it has nothing to do with that island anymore but hey. I feel that another may be stretching the premise end of the day, they have come full circle and we've seen a good array of animalistic sights from the city, native Africa, at sea and a classic circus. 'Always leave them wanting more' I believe is the well known saying, but that doesn't necessarily mean do loads more.
It starts as it means to go on: with scant regard for anything approaching logic, as our four heroes - having finally made it all the way to Africa - quickly decide that they're utterly bored with life on the savannah. Dreaming of refuge back at the zoo in Central Park, they head for Europe. A movie that was concerned with plot holes or "reality" would spend ages trying to figure out how to get these four talking animals from Africa to Europe. Madagascar 3's three directors know that because they're talking animals, anything toes, and so simply cuts to them washing up on the shores of Monte Carlo. The solution? Snorkels. Well, of course.
It sets the pace for what's to come. Which is, in short, deliciously bonkers. In quick succession, the team reunite with the sardonic Skipper (co-director Tom McGrath) and his magnificently twisted penguins, clean out a casino, and find themselves pursued by the series' first human antagonist, Frances McDormand's French animal control inspector, Chantal DuBois. An unstoppable Terminatrix who's desperate to put Alex's head on her wall of furry fame, DuBois is a hilarious - if not entirely politically correct - creation, and is often the source of the film's best jokes, whether it's her unflappability and Matrix-like reactions in the insane Monte Carlo car chase (the car, of course, being driven by the penguins), or a slew of great sight gags as the action moves to Italy and she outwits a succession of bumbling local polizia.
As our heroes elude DuBois by joining a ramshackle travelling circus peopled - or should that be animated? - by deadbeat rejects desperate to recapture past glories, the pace continues to zip along, and the new characters - including Bryan Cranston as a sinister tiger with hidden depths - blend well with the existing set. In fact, if anything, the original quartet are given short shrift during the second half of the movie, bar Stiller's Alex and Sacha Baron Cohen's demented lemur, King Julien XIII, who bags arguably the movie's funniest scenes as he embarks upon a beautiful and ill-considered inter-species love affair.
In many ways, that ever-so-slightly-wrong subplot is a perfect example of why Madagascar 3 is a movie that Pixar, for all it virtues, simply couldn't make. There are no wholesome message here, and any "be the best you can be" moments feel like half-hearted sops.
Instead, this is a gleefully joyous, zany and anarchic animation where the chief issue confronted is an old one that's gripped comedians from time immemorial: simply put, make 'em laugh. While it may blunder down the odd comedy cul-de-sac, Madagascar 3 is often inspired and very, very funny.
Now the characters. By this point all the main characters are fleshed out very well. Ben Stiller and Chris Rock are hilarious as usual having good comedic banter with each other and David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith do great jobs at being funny as well. Sacha Baron Cohen is as hilarious as ever when he is playing King Julien, and Andy Richter and Cedric the Entertainer are both very funny as well as Mort and Maurice. The four new characters are also very well written and all great characters. Bryan Cranston is great as Vitaly the Tiger making him brutish and mean but giving him a good personality and has a pretty interesting backstory told later in the film. Martin Short is hilarious as Stefano the Sea Lion giving his usual comedic touch like has given in other films and making him very likable. Out of all the characters my favorite of the new inclusions is Gia the Jaguar played by Jessica Chasatain. She is very funny and a fantastic love interest for Alex and probably one of my favorite female characters in film due to making her funny, cute, and a very likable character. The only real character I'm on the fence about is Frances Mcdormmand's character. Dubois is a very strange villain to have in a kid's film. She's scheming yes, but she is very, very creepy. she constantly will sniff the ground or lick animal tracks to find where the animals have gone. I get that they're making her like a hunter trying to find its prey but its just creepy and not very funny and it seems like they were trying to make it funny. Not saying she isn't well written its just she's very disturbing.
Now for the animation. Now seeing how Dreamworks has had some pretty remarkable looking animated films in the past two years, I was at least hoping for something interesting to look at in this film. But you know what? this is hands down the most beautiful looking 3-D animated films I've seen in my life. The lighting and detail on the mountain, fur textures, the car and streets, buildings, it all looks just flat out beautiful and well detailed. Now I think that some animated films are very beautiful, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are prime examples of what I think are some of the most beautiful animated films I've ever seen, but this hands down takes the cake for most beautiful film I've ever seen. Now in terms of films that look beautiful in CG, I think the example of what I think the most beautiful looking Pixar film is Wall-E or Finding Nemo, but those films compared to just this one scene, there's no comparison. All I can say, I wish I saw this in 3D on the big screen just see how beautiful this film would've looked.
Now the Comedy. Dreamworks have had hit or miss in terms of comedy, one film could be very funny such as Megamind, or hardly getting a chuckle out of me such as Over the Hedge or Flushed Away. And at first the film wasn't really making me laugh that much. there were a few moments that made me laugh but not that much, but the further the film progressed the more I started laughing. There is very good sight gags later and some extremely good slapstick like when Alex is trying to show Gia his trapeze "skills" and constantly goofing up but she thinks that it is all part of the act. King Julien also gets some very hilarious scenes involving a bear that rides a little bike that he has a crush for, which leads to a very funny scene later in the film but I won't dare ruin it. The only real thing that everyone found funny that I personally didn't find that funny was the Afro Circus thing, its good for a little chuckle but it's not as funny as some of the other moments in the film.
Overall this is hands down the best animated film in my mind that Dreamworks has made and this has really intrigued me in what else they can do in future films after this cause so far, they're beating Pixar by a long shot in my mind in terms of quality animated films. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is either fans of the first two films, fans of dreamworks or CG animation, or just looking for a entertaining and gorgeous animated film.
But first, let me give you the low-down of the story: Once again trying to get back to their beloved New York Zoo, Alex the Lion and his furry entourage start out their adventure in glamorous Monte Carlo, where they are supposed to just pick up the mischievous penguins, but accidentally attract some unwanted attention from "Le Animal Control".
Narrowingly escaping the clutches of the tenacious Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), they hitch a ride with a traveling circus train, where they befriend some other animals of European descent, and by luck discover a possibility - if a particularily difficult one - to return to America.
Swift as a cheetah from beginning to end, this is a laugh-a-minute adventure that knows how to keep up momentum throughout its entire course. Some may find it in too much of a rush and perhaps a little deja vu, but as wonderfully witty as the gags are, I was all in favor of the more rapid pace.
Although a bit on the stereotypical side, I loved the new additions to the cast; my favourites among which include an Italian sea lion named Stefano (delightfully brought to life by Martin Short) and a pack of cute little circus dogs - one of whom is voiced by none other than Vinnie Jones!
As for the original gang, I can't help but love the performances of Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen (as Marty the Zebra, respectively Julien the Lemur King). Even Ben Stiller is great as Alex and emits more energy through his vocal cords, than he's ever done in his past ten movies or so put together. Clearly, this off-screen stage is where he truly belongs.
Anyway, if you've read up until this point, and still wonder what makes this the best of the three, I can tell you in retrospect that I thought the first movie was so-so, the second a lot of fun and this latest chapter even better. Because where Shrek and Ice Age diminished with every sequel, this series has done just the opposite - bestowing some palpable truth to the phrase "third time's the charm".
Stunning in its backdrops and with a big glint in the eye, Madagascar 3 is a snappy, imaginative and consistently entertaining animation feature, that also boasts a terrific soundtrack and music by Hans Zimmer. Your kids will love it and it's got plenty of fun in store for us grown-ups as well. Highly recommended, for a great time at the movies!
"Da da dadadada circus! Da da dadadadada afro! Circus afro, circus afro! Polka dot, polka dot, polka dot, afro!"
Yes it's visually eviscerating, but appropriately so! I don't get why people have a problem with what they would call "sensory overload", I mean really, look at what you signed on for, Madagascar 3. The people that brought you "I like to move it, move it."
I'm sure producers are well aware that it's not some sort of... beautiful, poetic, well-crafted, emotional Pixar production. They grab the fact that it's an obtuse, frantic, explosive fury of pop-culture references, one-liners and constant over the top humor, then throttles it for our pleasure!
And sure, they're marginally cliche but the characters also have plenty of heart in what feels like a very fitting end to their misadventures.
Also, the antagonist? Captain Chantal Dubois? Quite possibly one of the most wonderfully animated villains I've seen in a long time. The way she moves, talks, everything. Just wow.
Okay, I didn't really want to but I do have kids and its summer, so we headed to the theatre to check out the only animated film at the cinema: Madagascar 3. Usually, I am not a big fan sequels especially when a series gets to the number 3 or 4 spot, but I caved when my kids asked. What's a mother to do?
Anyway, I will keep this review short.
First, I was pleasantly entertained, although this film wasn't as good as the first one but far better than the second. As with many animated movies there was a moral to the story. And as a mother, I appreciated that. However, the moral in this one may be a bit mature for most young kids as it has something to do with leaving home and learning you make your home where ever you end-up and that the grass isn't always greener somewhere else.
The story started and jumped right into the adventure very quickly with the foursome still stuck in Africa. Marty, Alex, Melman and Gloria are still waiting on the penguins to return to take them back to the Bronx Zoo. So they decide to go to Monte Carlo to find them....yep, if they can go to Monte Carlo, why can't they get back to the good ol USA? Got me. Anyway, they get there and immediately make an enemy and a few new friends whilst looking for their rescuers. That is all I will tell you about the story of the latest Madagascar movie.
The animation was spectacular. It really blows my mind what animators can do today. The detail, the depth of shapes and movements are a sight to see. This was a huge adventure movie with lots to see and to keep the kiddos fascinated. And we didn't even see it in 3D. So for that reason alone I recommend taking the kiddos to see this one at the theatre.
Most of the humor is definitely geared more towards children, but once in a while they threw in one or two for the adults. So enjoy Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon, Dreamworks Animation, 2012
Starring Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cranston, Martin Short and Frances McDormand.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
My favorite thing: Honestly, the animation was spectacular.
My least favorite thing: There really isn't anything to complain about.
Length: 93 minutes
Review: 7 out of 10