Whenever it comes to amazing cartoons – or computer animated features – the first names that come to mind are Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, but there are more studios contending for this title as well. One of those is DreamWorks Animation, which has been delivering consistent hits like “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and, of course, “Madagascar.”
The first two “Madagascar” films have made over $1 billion at the box office and just in time for summer, we have the third installment, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” hitting theaters today. With both directors returning from the previous films, plus the addition of a third director and a third dimension, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is the most colorful, loud and explosive outing we have seen from this group of friends yet.
Crazy adventures have taken Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) from their comfy home in a New York Zoo to the exotic island of Madagascar and then to the wild plains of Africa. Dependent on the return of the notorious chimpanzees and ingenious penguins, the lemur King Julien and his servant Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), the group gets sick of waiting and heads to Monaco to find their friends and the plane to get them home. When plans fail, they attract the attention of an unrelenting animal-control officer named Chanel DuBois (Frances McDormand) who is dedicated to her job, but pushed even further by her lust to see Alex’s head framed on her wall of animal trophies.
Desperate, Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman hitch a ride with a deteriorating traveling circus on its way across Europe. If the circus can impress an investor, he will take them to America. With that incentive, they plan to join the circus and hope to hitch a ride back home.
The reigning leader of the animals, a tiger named Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), doesn’t want them to stay, but a very helpful sea lion named Stefano (Martin Short) and a talented young jaguar named Gia (Jessica Chastain) help convince Vitaly into letting the four join them. It is going to take major work and dedication to be able to pull off the stunts big enough to impress the investor, but with a chance to get home everything’s on the line and they can’t fail.
I will admit that as an adult I enjoyed “Madagascar,” but I wasn’t a fan of the sequel. But now I can tell that it was all worthwhile as “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is the loudest, most entertaining and brightest to come out of this trilogy. Being incredibly fast paced, the visuals and graphics are sharper than ever, all the returning voice cast with the addition of many new talented individuals and one of the best uses of 3D technology I have ever seen utilized in an animated movie are just some of the reasons this film is a must see for families and young kids everywhere.
“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” benefits immensely from the introduction of the villain, Madam DuBois — a mixture of bloodhound, Cruella DeVille and a number of other nasty villains — is an essential part of the drive in this film and what makes it so exciting. Award-winner Frances McDormand transforms her voice into a truly unique and creepy woman. Another new addition I loved was that of the sea lion Stefano — he is a kind-hearted individual who brings heart back into a film that aims for laughs and dramatic action.
As always, the rest of the returning cast is great in the roles that they know very well, and it wouldn’t be a “Madagascar” film without the wild and crazy antics of King Julien and his somewhat impaired mind. Additional voices that bring this movie and its characters to life were provided by Paz Vega, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights and John Dimaggio.
This is the first of the trilogy to be in 3D and it looked amazing. This film has so much depth and many uses of items exploding or flying out into the audiences. This movie was made for 3D and lends itself very well to the addition of a new dimension. It’s hard to explain how great the 3D was in this film, but I honestly can’t remember a time I was this impressed with 3D in an animated feature.
Lastly, the looks and aesthetics of the movie were bright, fun and colorful and the use of the 3D when it comes to the amazing and high-soaring stunts used in the circus and the finale of the film were brilliant and made it feel like we were watching a performance of Cirque De Soleil in a dark room with a backlight. The creators, animators, writers and directors pulled out all the stops and produced a top-notch film that is sure to make your kids watch repeatedly at home and in the theaters. There were a few minor issues I had, but they are more observances from an adult’s mind and children won’t even notice or think about them.
Being fun, energetic, funny and trilling, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is a film you will want to take the whole family to and it has many lines and jokes that will be sure to entertain the adults while going right over your kids heads.
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor it marches itself into theaters today.
. . .
“Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/itsjustmovies.