Movie Reviews

‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – A surreal head trip

By Travis WongMovies - 06 June 2012 10:45 AM | Updated 2:24 PM

‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – A surreal head trip

Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe, and Marty the Zebra end up in Monaco and join the circus

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The continued improvement in Dreamwork’s animation works can be viewed in the ‘Madagascar’ franchise. The first was tentative, the second was bolder, and the latest version goes into surreal territory that would have been off-limits in previous offerings from the company.

While no masterpiece, there is much to like about the latest effort. The main four characters are bored with Africa, particularly Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller), the not so brave lion. Marty (Chris Rock) the zebra, Melman (David Schwimmer) the still socially awkward giraffe and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), the exhibitionist hippo hatch a plan. They’ll join up with the penguins, who are living it up in Monaco, and find a way to get back to the zoo in New York where they escaped from.

Also read: Coolest (& freakiest) cartoon animals on film

Nothing goes as planned, and they meet a psychotic hunter/police chief Capt. Chantal Dubois (Frances McDormand) who is eager to have Alex’s head on her wall. The bunch of animals join a travelling circus and try to figure out a way to get back to New York.

Yup, they snorkeled their way to Europe from Africa. Don't ask us how

The down-on-its-luck circus, obviously outmoded with the advent of a certain Canadian circus and its emphasis on human performers, consists of jaguar Gia (Jessica Chastain), a love interest for Alex. Seemingly running the show is Stefano the Sea Lion (Martin Short), while the circus’ former big star Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) eyes the new arrivals with suspicion.

On top of this, there’s the lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his love affair with a cycling bear.

‘Madagascar 3’ actually goes where the franchise has never gone before, and there are quite a few moments where director Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath are willing to let the film go and make it turn surreal.

One more reason to catch 'Madagascar 3': Sasha Baron Cohen as King Julien. We know how you like to move it, move it

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Though the ending isn’t quite as coherent as some of the other set pieces and things just get louder and rowdier, a segment involving a chase in Monaco keeps upping the stakes is one of the best set pieces of the franchise.

Some subplots are forced onto the more minor characters, such as Melman’s fear of dancing, but that’s quickly set aside for the main thrust of the film. McDormand’s portrayal of Dubois is also fun, particularly since the animals have already pretty much drained themselves of character development points in the previous two films. 

Plucky and colourful, the latest instalment of the ‘Madagascar’ takes what worked well in the previous two movies and cranks it up a notch. It does lose some momentum at the end and repeats some of its gags, but does manage to deliver the goods without collapsing.

The one-liners are kept to a minimum, and the ones that remain are sharp. Once again, the use of 3D is gratuitous, but the film itself does make the best use of its European environments to create a vibrant, fun sequel.

‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ is showing in theatres everywhere.

Travis Wong is a film loving geek who got his start from frequenting video shops in JB. He frequented movie theaters more often than school, and received his cinematic epiphany when he watched 'Taxi Driver'. While not driving a cab, he haunts DVD shops, and he currently has the largest remaining collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs in the country.