Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012)
★★ / ★★★★
Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippopotamus (Jada Pinkett Smith) were supposed to go back to New York City with the help the penguins, but an extended trip by the latter group in a Monte Carlo casino made the former grew extremely restless. Though the gang was able to follow the penguins and pry them off the casino tables successfully, a high-speed chase between the animals and an animal control personnel, Captain DuBois (Frances McDormand), left the city in ruins. In order not to stick out like a sore thumb in Europe, Alex and his friends pretended to be a part of a traveling circus. Based on the screenplay by Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” was neither impressive nor unbearably terrible although it did depend on putting all its eggs in one basket, the bulk of its cotton candy humor targeted toward children while the crumbs, not at all tasty, were left for adults. As usual, a lot of effort was taken to make the characters on screen look colorful in order to create an illusion of energy or spark between and among the characters. The picture was most enjoyable to watch during its chase sequences; defying the laws of physics left and right proved unpredictable and entertaining. There was a funky rhythm between wide shots, placing emphasis on the action, and when the camera zoomed in on the characters’ faces, underlining the emotions of the wild experience. I liked that Captain DuBois was established as a formidable villain very early on. This was a woman so obsessed with her job, she actually had the ability to detect and follow animal musk for miles. I believed that if she got her hands on the animals, she would hurt them and enjoy every second of it. The filmmakers wanted us to dislike her so much, it was pretty amusing how she had only heads of cute-looking animals, like puppies and kittens, hung on the walls of her office. However, when Alex and his friends were given a chance to speak, there was no depth from their interactions. They were supposed to have purpose but their determination to return to New York City was not given a chance to be felt by the audience through more complicated or subtle story devices. Therefore, for example, grand speeches that were meant to inspire felt completely forced and phony. The new characters such as Stefano the seal (Martin Short), Gia the cheetah (Jessica Chastain), and Vitaly the tiger (Bryan Cranston) were not especially exciting. Stefano was the most interesting due to his inability to read sarcasm, flat-out lies, and compliments. I was tickled at times by his jelly-like movements because it matched his unrelenting eagerness. Meanwhile, Gia and Vitaly’s more relaxed energy made it feel like they were taken from another animated film. They weren’t given anything particularly interesting to say or do so we had to wonder why they were introduced in the first place. While understandable that “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon, aimed to entertain very young children, it would not have taken too much effort to break from the formula of introducing a problem in one scene and solving it within thirty seconds. It felt lazy. If anything, the filmmakers should have worked harder to keep and stretch children’s attention spans through consistent and varied creativity instead of resting on the same old song and dance.