24 October 2012
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED- Review
Up to this point, the series has followed four escaped zoo animals- Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo- on their misadventures around the world, and this new sequel finds them still trying to get home to New York, from Africa. Chasing down the penguins at a casino in Monte Carlo, they come to the attention of DuBois, a fearsome and unnaturally resilient animal control officer who gives chase across the whole of Europe. The gang try to hide out amongst circus animals, and find themselves trying to turn the circus' ill fortunes around by coming up with a new show.
This one is apparently the final chapter, save the spin-off with the penguins that's due in a couple of years' time, and it wastes no time in striking a tone that's markedly different from the previous two films. All of a sudden, the series has come over all Looney Tunes, and the utterly nutty opening sequence in Monte Carlo plays almost like a Bond movie opener, enacted on Daffy Duck's rules. Never mind that the animals have apparently snorkelled their way to Monaco, from Africa- animals can't talk, either! This one dispenses with a lot of what has been established about the series, in order to be as big, bold and inventive as it can be.
Noah Baumbach, who wrote the loathsome Greenberg and a few other mumble-movies, is an unexpected contributor to the script, even after Charlie Kaufman did some punch-up work on Kung Fu Panda 2. While the film fulfills the DreamWorks quota of jokes that pander to the adults, they lean less heavily on innuendo or pop culture references, and there's some of Baumbach's voice in there, but not to a stultifying effect. Some of the more baffling elements, like King Julian the wacky lemur having a surreal romance with a performing bear on a motorbike, would surely have been there since the story stage, so it's presumably in the dialogue, if anywhere, that you'd detect his scripting influence.
As with the ongoing Ice Age juggernaut, the core characters stopped being interesting a while ago, though it does better than Continental Drift, because its new supporting characters are all more vivid and appealing. Most prominently, the character of DuBois, voiced with panache by Frances McDormand, makes a hugely entertaining threat to our heroes, with her supernatural endurance and frightening quirks. Additions like this character, along with the general colourful volume of it all, might mask a rote kiddy animation plot structure with the circus, (outsiders blag their way into a group, becomes friends with them and then offends them when their lies are uncovered) but they make it all so much more enjoyable than it should be.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is now showing, in 2D and 3D, in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, why not share your comments below? As DreamWorks is treating its selection of scriptwriters in the same way as it treats voice casting, I'm looking forward to Aaron Sorkin's take on How To Train Your Dragon 2, or Nicolas Winding Refn's Kung Fu Panda 3.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.