Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frances McDormand
Running Time: 93 mins
Synopsis: Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) attempt to fight their way back home to the New York from Africa.
As is standard for sequels, much loved characters are placed in different locations and studio chiefs pray the culture clash formula equals box office gold, as MADAGASCAR 3 is sure to do.
Like most Dreamworks movies, the pace is frenetic from start to finish. The gags and action sequences come thick and fast, for most parts they do hit the mark. The action starts off when the foursome travel to Monaco hot on the heels of the penguins to try and hitch a flight back to the Big Apple. This sets up two major action sequences, one in which they try and infiltrate a casino Mission: Impossible-style and a crazy car chase through the streets of Monaco. We are then introduced to the zany Captain Chantel DuBois, voiced by the brilliant Frances McDormand. She’s styled like Catherine Zeta Jones in ROCK OF AGES. There’s even a rendition of ‘We’re not gonna take it’ during the car chase.
They hide from the police by joining a circus train. Here we are introduced to Gia the Jaguar (Jessica Chastain), Russian tiger, Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) and the hugely entertaining Stefano the sea lion (Martin Short). It’s here the film really picks up impetus with brilliant interactions between the old characters and the circus troupe. There’s a very funny montage when Lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) go on a date with a giant circus bear at the Vatican
We follow the group to various locations such as Rome and London. It’s merely an excuse to have some more exciting backdrops for the wonderfully talented animators at Dreamworks. We have the Coliseum and the London Eye, but what really make the 3D work really well is the action sequences during the circus acts. What we get is a pyrotechnic explosion of colours and excitement. The final sequence is played to Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’
If I have to make a serious criticism about the film, it’s the poor plotting. Captain Chantel DuBois is virtually non-existent during the middle third of the film. Although the pace of the film often does a good job at covering up the paper thin plot. The stand out performances was from Frances McDormand and Martin Short, so it would have been nice to see more of both characters.
Whilst the plot is thin, the dialogue is very sharp in most places, which isn’t a surprise considering it’s from Eric Darnall, who has looked after previous MADAGASCAR storylines and Noah Baumbach, famous for writing the scripts for THE FANTASTIC MR FOX and GREENBERG. I never thought anyone could make the word ‘Bolshevik’ so funny in a film.
The plot might be thin, but this is one very welcome sequel with a giant heart. It’s a very fast paced film, the scatter gun jokes do mostly work, the visuals are some of the best you will see using 3D technology. This is definitely a top choice film for the young and old. I don’t know about you, but I am secretly hoping for a MADAGASCAR 4.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED arrives in UK cinemas 19th October