Being the 3rd movie of the series, I had low expectations for the latest installment of “Madagascar”. Yet it was an unusually hot Saturday for June, and the kids were in dire need of a diversion. I opted to skip the 3D version and use the savings to buy an overpriced medium sized popcorn instead. After a seemingly infinite amount of movie trailers, the lights mercifully dimmed and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” started. Ten minutes into the movie, the unexpected happened. I was actually enjoying it…a lot.
How’s the story?
The story begins with Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) all still pining to return to their beloved New York City. They devise a plan, become embroiled in hijinks in Europe, get chased by French terminator-esque Animal Control agent Capitaine Chantel Dubois (Frances McDormand), and hook up with a traveling circus which they reinvent with the goal of returning to New York. All the rest of the gang’s along for the ride too including the spy agent like Penguins, the Chimpanzees, and the wacky Lemurs.
The writing is sharp and witty. There’s a playful exuberance throughout the story that was absent in the first two movies. The introduction of the Circus characters, particularly Vitaly the Tiger(Bryan Cranston), adds depth as well as heart to Madagascar 3 by expanding the world of the franchise as well as opening up the possibility of yet another Madagascar movie in the future. With the exception of a few unnecessary sight gags, Madagascar 3 offers a fun, rambunctiously entertaining ride from start to finish.
How are the visual effects?
DreamWorks animation has really hit its stride in producing quality animated movies. “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” offers rich vibrant colors, beautifully textured environments and artful direction. The visual team at DreamWorks was essentially given free reign to unleash their creativity and it shows. From the thrilling flashback of Vitaly the Tiger’s defining circus act to the outrageously colorful style of the “Afro-Circus”, viewers are treated to an eye popping extravaganza. Think Cirque du Soleil but with animals instead of humans.
The movie carries a PG rating. Can I take my younger children to see it?
I’d recommend the movie for ages 5 and up. There are a few mildly violent scenes as well as implied acts of cruelty to animals. In addition, the villain of the story, Capitaine Chantel Dubois, possesses both animal-like and super human abilities without explanation of their origin other than the implied relentless nature of her character. Expect to answer a countless number of questions explaining her amazing feats during her pursuit of Alex the Lion and friends.
Any opportunity for Bathroom Breaks?
The story moves at a brisk pace yet there are a few moments to slip away. For example, when the penguin’s plane crash lands at the dock as well as when the circus performers begin to train for their new acts under Alex’s direction.
Overall Rating: B+
Recommended for kids 5 and up with parental guidance
Pros: Smart witty writing. Visually rich characters and environments. Entertaining and fun.
Cons: A few misses in terms of sight gags. Dubious character should have been scaled back a bit in respect to her super human abilities.
View the official movie trailer for “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”