(Published on Lost In The Multiplex)
DreamWorks’ latest, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, picks up with our favourite animated zoo animals – Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) – as the group continue their adventures from the first two films. After experiencing the African wildlife, the escapees plan to return back to their home town of New York City. Pursued by the fanatical Animal Control officer Captain DuBois (Frances McDormand), the animals are forced to join a travelling circus, staffed by the likes of Vitaly the tiger (Bryan Cranston), Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain), and Stefano the sea lion (Martin Short), if they are to travel through Europe unnoticed.
Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon, Madagascar 3 is the highest-grossing Madagascar film to date, yet for me it wasn’t nearly as good as its predecessors. I’m a big fan of the Madagascar films and, just like the Ice Age franchise, this seems to be a series of films that could go on forever without getting too old. That being said, this third instalment doesn’t quite do it. It’s not that it lost its appeal, nor that it isn’t funny, it’s not even that it used the same old recycled jokes; Madagascar 3 just didn’t rub me up the right way.
Whilst there are some very funny moments throughout and the new additions to the cast make a fresh change, there are also a number of downright ridiculous parts to the plot of Madagascar 3. I know that it’s hard to question a children’s film, with the whole premise of talking animals travelling the world being unbelievable in itself, but it’s another thing to have these characters in high-speed car chases and jumping from skyscrapers. Taking the animals out of their wildlife setting seems to be what ruined this instalment for me, altering the film’s premise slightly and therefore giving it a different effect; it was like having the next Ice Age film time travel to present day and set in the Sahara Desert. With the exception of the circus scenes, which reminded me of the Disney classic Dumbo, it was all a bit too much and just didn’t work in the context of the first two films.
What I enjoy most about the franchise, however, is that it has a great collection of characters, and this is one thing that remained constant here. With three additional animals, Madagascar 3 yet again has one of my favourite animated casts, but there was not nearly enough King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) for my liking. His character was what made the first two films hilarious and without more of his comical lines inserted randomly into the script, this instalment wasn’t as funny as it could have been. As for those behind the animation, Chastain and Cranston were brilliant additions to the voice cast and were almost unrecognisable in their parts.
Madagascar 3 isn’t a bad film and the younger audience it is aimed for are sure to love it, but I won’t be re-watching this over and over again as I do with the other two Madagascar films. Nonetheless, it was still fairly enjoyable to watch and I will definitely be buying it for my young siblings to see on its home release.