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MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED
DIRECTORS: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
VOICE CAST: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Frances McDormand
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
BRIGHTLY coloured, cheerful and heavy on the family-sticks-together message, this 3D foray is a winner for the Madagascar franchise.
This storyline is coherent and the landscapes and sets are more convincing than in the second film. That, however, could just be because we are further removed from Europe while the African setting of Madagascar 2 was so obviously a film conceit and not based on the real thing.
In the second film the penguins received greater billing, but this time the still-expanding cast are all on a more equal footing. If you want more penguin action, check out the TV series.
This film starts out in Africa, but the action soon moves to Monte Carlo and then into greater Europe.
Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are still trying to get back home from the Bronx Zoo in New York.
Once in Monte Carlo they quickly get into trouble with the humans, so they need a way to travel around in disguise. What better way than to join the travelling circus?
So now we have Stefano (Martin Short), an Italian sea lion of average intelligence, Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), a Siberian tiger with performance issues, Gia (Jessica Chastian), an exotic jaguar – and a host of crazy characters with accents.
The PG age restriction reflects a high level of fantastical (though non-threatening) violence, but the most disturbing part of this film for adults will once again be King Julian (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Considering the Madagascar films take an inoffensive, middle-of-the-road approach to their storyline, the sexually ambivalent lemur is not so much out on his own limb as not even in the same tree.
Julian becomes obsessed with a brown bear, who is the subject of the most disturbing use of music in a film yet. Enya and Andrea Bocelli will never sound the same again.
The surreal touches, combined with very adult references, will keep the big people bemused and for the little people it will all make sense in the Madagascar universe.
The animals are highly anthropomorphised, so there are no hard and fast rules here. Slapstick predicated on anatomical distortion and weird wordplay are the order of the day. It boils down to kids liking the idea of penguins being clever enough to drive cars and build planes. So what’s a dog on rollerskates, or a flying elephant among fans?
The entire film is merely a build-up to the most gorgeous of set pieces to use 3D technology: the new circus act that plays out to Katy Perry’s Firework.
In this day and age of Cirque du Soleil (which reinvented the circus by doing away with animals) it was always going to be a stretch to fit the Bronx Zoo escapers into a circus setting, but letting the imagination go and not trying to box this animated film into our reality means anything is possible – and as long as it looks great, it works.
The backgrounds are highly detailed, with the faded colours and features of the train’s box cars reminiscent of Eastern European circuses, while details like water drops and fur receive equal attention.
Because there are so many characters, do not go looking for character development or intricate storyline, but if you watch all the movies in one go you’ll see development across the series and that’s really where the animated franchises are going.
Releasing on the big screen creates the splash with the gorgeous images, but long-term development lies in TV series and the “big picture”, the overall effect of the universe created by this particular production team. Don’t think of the Madagascar films as competing with each other, but the Madagascar universe competing with the Ice Age universe.
If you liked… Madagascar or Madagascar 2… you will like this.
• Win! Win! Win!
To celebrate the nationwide release of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, www.tonight.co.za is giving away five Madagascar 3 hampers. Each hamper consists of a Madagascar 3 watch, wristband, juggling set and wig - just perfect for little fans of the film. To stand a chance of winning one of these hampers, all you have to do is answer the following question:
What is the name of the lion in the Madagascar film series?
Send your answer, along with your name and contact details, to Sharon_Naidoo@uip.com. The competition closes on Wednesday, June 20, at noon. Only the winners will be contacted.