Madagascar 3 – Film Review

Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise is not the only trilogy about personal loss and the journey to self-discovery that concludes this year. No, closing the franchise – although probably not indefinitely – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted re-joins audiences with their favourite mismatched group of safari animals as they continue their quest to return home to the New York City Zoo.

Truthfully, I have never seen either of the other Madagascar films in their entirety, nor the television spin-off surrounding the franchise’s resourceful penguins (imaginatively titled The Penguins of Madagascar). The series’ trailers have always had a knack for neglecting to include the heart of the animals’ story; instead focusing on their terrible choice of dance music, their arguably lamest jokes and Ben Stiller, which is enough to turn the average cinema-goer off immediately.

In actual fact (and I feel like I should have watched the first two before writing this to play fair with the franchise as a whole) Madagascar 3 has an actual plot with fully established characters. For the first twenty minutes I felt like I was sitting in on a “you had to be there” anecdote from someone I barely knew. As the film went on, however, and I slowly caught up there was a more personal and developed – if still somewhat immature – sense to the films and their array of characters.

While there is a decent plot, the true greatness of Madagascar 3 lies in its incredible energy. A film that truly is for the six year-old child audience it is aimed at; M3 rarely ceases its onslaught of kinetic chase sequences, lively dance scenes and other nonsensical montages. On top of that the enormous detail that goes into every one of these is unimaginable. And to keep those viewers that don’t have ADD (ie: anyone over the age of 14) engaged, barely a scene goes by without a subtly hidden adult joke or background gag that would make the Zucker brothers proud.

Funnily enough, though Madagascar 3’s main quartet are supposed to be the film’s primary focus, the supporting characters (and their respective voice actors) are the ones that take the reins for the most part: from the film’s chief comic relief, Sacha Baron Cohen’s King Julian, to Frances McDormand’s psychotically obsessed animal control leader, to Bryan Cranston’s begrudging circus tiger, no character or actor’s potential is wasted.

If you have a penchant for meticulous and indulgent humour this is the film for you – and definitely your child (should you have one). Madagascar 3 is a perpetual series of gags that is as funny as the film is loud (very). Include the dashes of joyous sentiment floating around and Madagascar 3 is easily one of 2012’s best animated films. Now, has anyone got any copies of 1 and 2 I can borrow?

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is in UK cinemas on 19th October 2012

We’re Off to See the Wizard Again and Again

When Sherlock Holmes entered the public domain a few years back two different projects were announced and over time the version starring Sacha Baron Cohen has been completely buried by Guy Ritchie’s crack at the famous detective. When it comes to The Wizard of Oz, which came into the public domain in 1956 it is right now that a large number of adaptations are in the works and they don’t seem to bothered by the competition.

Rumours were running wild yesterday about Robert Downey Jr. teaming up with Sam Mendes in a prequel called Oz The Great and Powerful with Downey Jr. as the great wizard himself. Warner Bros. are getting into the Oz game with two different films, the first of which will be a straight forward remake of the classic film called simply Oz. The second film, Wizard of Oz, will be a more modern take as Dorothy’s granddaughter returns to Oz to fight evil. Universal also has a film they want to make; a film version of the hit musical Wicked as loved by theatregoers everywhere.

With all these new films in the works, Tim Burton’s version, Sci-Fi’s woeful Tin Man from 2007 and Over the Rainbow on the BBC Dorothy and her ruby slippers seem to be everywhere. I have no idea why now is the time for Oz to take over the cinema but with so many versions soon to trickling into cinemas at least one of them has to be good.