Thursday, 8 November 2012

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Lowdown: Our animal heroes join a European circus in order to go back to New York.
I’ll be honest with you: I did not see myself writing this review. Years ago, when I first watched Madagascar, I thought it was a rather pathetic affair; I couldn’t see how anyone could laugh at the jokes. My young son disagreed, of course, but even though I probably seen Madagascar 2 many a time I never sat it from start to finish. Given the universal law of deteriorating sequels, what could I expect of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted? Well, as it turns out, I could have expected some fine entertainment.
The premises are of the “who cares” type. We start off from where the previous Madagascar finished. The penguins leave Madagascar with their friends the monkeys flying their plane for a gambling bonanza at Monaco. In the meantime, our heroes – notably Alex – feel homesick and decide they want to use the same plane to go back to their Central Park home. So they go in some mysterious way to Monaco, too (don’t ask me why they couldn’t just go directly to New York using the exact same elusive way of theirs). There they retrieve the penguins, alright, in a high octane caper scene. However, they also incur the wrath of a French police captain (Frances McDormand) in charge of animals. The captain seeks to add Alex the lion to her collection of stuffed animals, thus triggering a chase that lasts through the rest of the movie. Our heroes’ only escape is joining a circus under, faking their CVs as it is to get their way in. As it happens, the circus is vying to attract an American tour that will see the series’ four heroes back at their New York home; to get there, though, they must pull a hell of a show in Europe first.
They key factor about Madagascar 3, a factor I generally found missing in the franchise’s previous episodes, is its entertainment factor. It’s not just animals saying silly things to one another anymore: there are some genuinely thrilling and creative action scenes here, of a caliber that wouldn’t shame a good Pixar flick (from the days before Disney took over). There is more adult appeal, too, in the shape of pop culture references that would go way over the heads of the series’ typical viewers but hit home with the likes of yours truly: finally, DreamWorks managed to copy some of the better ideas from its Shrek world into its Madagascar one.
While the whole thing is less than serious or particularly meaningful, there are some surprising deviations. [Skip to the next paragraph to avoid a blooper that should not surprise any viewer able to read this sentence] I found it very mature for our animals to arrive back at their Central Park origins only to see the place through their now changed eyes and realize their memories and their yearnings tell a different story to reality. Hey, one can claim Madagascar 3 is thus throwing us an anti-conservatism message.
Best scene: That Monaco caper, of course. Because the casino scene is so like a sophisticated heist movie (say, an Oceans’ flick), followed by an A-Team like escape with a van, followed by a Transporter like chase through the French streets, and culminating in a narrow escape. Who can ask for anything more?
Overall: Nothing here but fine entertainment for the whole family. 3.5 out of 5 stars. Or, in another words, it's amazing how far low expectations can take me.

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