This weekend--after many long weeks of anticipation--I got around to seeing Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted in theaters. Flashbacks started showing up in my head just before going to see the movie--flashbacks of me seeing the first movie in 2005. I could remember the great attention to detail, deep sense of humor, and overall charm the first movie gave me.
Madagascar was the first of Dreamworks' movies to use HD graphics in their CGI animation--while still holding true to the cartoon goodness that makes Dreamworks what it is today. Every kid on my street babbled on about just how amazing the first Madagascar was.
A devout Dreamworks fan since Shrek's debut, I walked into the Carmike 20 theater and watched Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted with a heavy amount of enthusiasm weighted upon my shoulders. What followed was a blend of comedy, eye-candy, and a strong plot to bring me into the movie.
So now let's actually get into the movie. Like the other Madagascar movies, we are given four animal main characters: Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippopotamous, Marty the Zebra, and Alex the Lion.For any of you who know nothing about the world of this fantastic series, these four animals originally lived in the New York City Central Park Zoo--where Alex was the star of the show. Despite the four main characters, the zoo also was the home to four penguins--Skipper, Private, Kowalski, and Rico--and two chimpanzees: Phil and Mason.
After Marty wishes to live in the wild, a series of events brings the four animals to the island country of Madagascar. It's here where they are introduced to the dance-happy lemurs--three of which are named King Julian, Mort, and Maurice. Near the end of the first movie, the four protagonists meet up with the penguins--who had travelled to Madagascar in a ship.
The second movie involves the animals trying to get back to New York. Their way of transportation is via a plane built by the penguins; why they just don't take the ship is a spoiler I will not reveal. However, the plane crashes in Africa and leads the cast of main characters to interact with their own species for the first time. Even now with the animals in their traditional homeland, th ey still wish to go back to the zoo.
So now we're up to Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. This movie picks up right where the last one picked off. All the main characters--Alex, Marty, Goria, Melman, the penguins, lemurs, and the return in this movie. Different from the second movie, however, is how absolutely none of the characters we saw in the last movie appear in this installment of the Madagascar series; they aren't even mentioned in this movie, as if the second movie didn't even matter. To add to this, only the first 10 minutes of Madagascar 3 take place in Africa.
Speaking of this movie's first ten minutes, I felt lik the plot played itself out a little too quickly. It's during this time when we're already taken from Africa all the way to Paris. This is because the penguins and chimps have decided to go to a European casino--and they say they're not coming back. The other main characters panic over this--as the penguins have taken their plane with them, thus removing all possibility of getting back home.
It's shortly thereafter when Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman, and the lemurs switch from their scene in Africa to the French coastline. With a investigation do they find the casino and follow the deserters. After a mishap in Alex's plan to bring the penguins and chimps out of the casino, animal control is called and we are introduced to this movie's antagonist: an animal control officer by the name of Captain Chantel Dubois.
Dubois is well-known for the amount of animals she has captured and killed during her career. To show an even stronger sense for how much she hates animals, Dreamworks gives us a scene of her office: a room filled to the brim with deceased animals' heads implanted on her walls.
Throughout the movie's course are the animals constantly being chased by Dubois and her backup officers. Eventually are tha animals led into a circus train--where we are introduced to even more characters. In the train is a tiger named Vitaly, a sea lion named Stefano, and a jaguar named Gia.
Alex and friends pass themselves off as circus animals and put the chimps into a disguise as the King of Versailles--an outfit which they use to buy the circus from its human owners. So is done because the circus is on a tour that extends out to Rome, London, and finally to New York.
After seeing the circus animals' mediocre performance in Rome, Alex decides to reinvent the circus. So now for the next two circus acts, we see a series of colorful display. Each of these acts consisted of everything that made circus great--but with a few minor changes. I could go on, but that would just spoil the story.
In terms of presentation, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted played out just like any other of Dreamworks' films--that is, in a very hilarious and cartoony style.
I'm not even kidding when I say this movie is hilarious. With a few no-brainer jokes for kids and some jokes only adults will be able to understand, this movie is sure to make anybody laugh at some point. Barely a moment went by when the crowd in the theater wasn't laughing. To top of Madagascar 3's humor, I'll comment that this may have been Dreamworks' funniest movie since Over the Hedge in 2006.
In addition to humor, I also thought the character development was spot-on. Critics often regard Dreamworks for having "inferior character development" when compared to Pixar and Disney. While I agree with this statement to an extent, Dreamworks has actually gotten a lot better at drawing their characters' personalities--as we've seen with their past few movies.
To me the character setup as of late has seemed a bit like this: There's the main character(s), their partner(s), another partner who seems to be an antagonist, and the main "pure-evil" antagonist themself. In this movie's case, the main characters are Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman; the partners are Stefano and Gia; the antagonist-like partner is Vitaly; and the main antagonist is Captain Chantel Dubois.
With all that said, I don't know what else I can do to convince you to see this fantastic film. Even if you're watching it in 2D--like I did--I can guarantee it will give you an hour and a half of sheer entertainment.
It's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted; is that movie on your "most wanted" list?