Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - Still Trying to Figure Out How They Wound Up in Europe
Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) really need to figure out a better way to travel. In DreamWork's 3D computer-animated "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" (2012), the fearsome foursome from the New York Central Park Zoo manage to get just about everywhere but their destination until, in fact, they do reach it and realize they didn't really want to go there after all. They do, though, finally get out of Africa, so that has to be considered progress of a sort. Eric Darnell returns to direct again (with Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon), and Darnell and Noah Baumbach handle the writing.
|Is Alex going to be happy he met her!|
When last we left our intrepid castaways, they had settled in to their new surroundings in the heart of Africa after having left New York to be cast adrift on Madagascar ("Madagascar") and then stranded in Africa ("Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa"). The penguins had repaired the plane and flown it to Monte Carlo, and in this film Alex convinces Marty, Melman and Gloria that they should follow in order to get flown back to New York.
|The police probably don't get too many suspects 8 feet tall.|
After causing chaos in Monte Carlo, everybody gets on the plane in Monte Carlo and once again they set off for New York. Unfortunately, wouldn't you know it, the craft has engine trouble and crashes. The animals, close to being caught, find a circus train and talk themselves on board, where they can hide (sort of like "Some Like it Hot," for old movie fans). It turns out the circus is angling to get an American tour, so that turns out to be a lucky break (and which is reminiscent of a classic Dr. McCoy line to Spock in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"). The penguins buy the circus, but the next performance in Rome is a disaster.
|Frances McDormand once again plays a tenacious cop.|
Setting off for London, Alex, who is falling in love with Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain), has a brainstorm and convinces the others to re-work the show as an animal-only lights and acrobatic show. The circus animals and the regular characters start to bond. The police officer who chased them in Rome, DuBlois (Frances McDormand), continues to pursue them and forces them to move on before they have completed rehearsals for the new show.
|I thought I saw a pussy cat!|
The London show turns out to be a great triumph, which enables the show to land its American tour. Returning to New York, Marty, Alex, Melman and Gloria realize that they no longer can go back in cages, but they are captured. The circus animals plan to mount a major operation to free their friends so they can be a part of the circus once again.
|"We go out there, see, and we act stupid, see, and... hey, are you paying attention?"|
The future of the series had been in some doubt after the lackluster second installment, but "Madagascar 3" works much better. A large part of that is due to the fact that the producers dropped the effort to turn the show into some kind of drama, and instead returned it to its comic roots. The film uses the most cartoon sound effects in any DreamWorks Animation feature, and that helps cover over the somewhat dodgy script.
|"My, what big eyes you have!"|
The pace also is helped by an assortment of pop songs ranging from '90s hits to "Firework" by Katy Perry. Hans Zimmer again scored the film to good effect. This film is about as cartoonish as you will see from a major studio release these days, and some may find it a bit over-the-top. On the plus side, by giving up any pretensions that they are creating "art" along the lines of "The Lion King"and so on and so forth, the creators were able to harness fully the marvelous 3D animation technology that makes the circus stunts stand out so brilliantly in this film.
|Doesn't this look like fun?|
It's not difficult to say that this was the most entertaining chapter in the series, but it isn't necessarily the best. You get all sorts of mind-blowing visuals that ultimately lead nowhere. In a way, this film is reminiscent of early 3D efforts that would ostentatiously have characters throwing things and jumping toward the audience simply for the cheap 3D thrill. That may excite the audience, but it also gives them little to think about later. Some of the negative attitudes displayed towards non-Americans also are a bit off-putting.
|These two make all the premieres, they must have a piece of the film.|
Lots and lots of people love this film, so it is doing something right. It is difficult to see where it goes from here, so the next instalment should be interesting just to see how the screenwriters wriggle out of the fact that the series no longer has anything to do with Madagascar, and the character no longer have any destination. From here on out, they are simply there, without a mission or a purpose, and that usually spells trouble for a franchise.
|"Those magnificent men in their flying machines... whoops, those ZEBRAS in their ... whoops!"|
Highly recommended and enjoyable, though I wouldn't place this on a part with your typical Pixar film despite the fact that it made Pixar-style money. If you watch the first film, skip the second, and then watch this one, you'll be ahead of the game. It's unclear whether there will be another entry in the series, but spin-off feature "The Penguins of Madagascar" already is set for release in 2015.
Below is the trailer for "Madadagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted."