Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted Review

Ok, lets be totally honest. Original material is hard to come by in the Hollywood of today, even in the animated realm. Unfortunately, the results of a less than stellar movie-going experience often spur from the perpetuation of an over-used idea. Dreamworks is one of those studios that has yet to understand the value in both originality and methodical release (by which I mean the spacing out of sequels and/or prequels). This is clearly evident in the Shrek saga, and more recently with the third installment in the Madagascar series, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

In this run of the mill adventure, Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) (and of course the penguins, King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), and Mort (Andy Richter)) are at it again – that is, attempting to get back home to New York City. This time, they make their way from Africa to Europe, where their attempt to get home is foiled by the completely crazy, out-of-control, French Animal Control officer, Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand). In order to escape, they conceal themselves within a traveling circus.

The fabulous foursome and their animal posse attempt to blend with the circus folk, an amusing collection of various new faces, who range from the fierce Russian tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), the stunning jaguar Gia (Jessica Chastain), and the goofy but lovable sea lion Stefano (Martin Short). These characters all bring a new story to the mix, and they blend well with the existing characters.

While I get the feeling that the majority of the audience enjoyed the movie (and I will admit, there were a few parts that did get a hefty chuckle out of me), the movie just didn’t do anything for me. I feel as though the characters and situations must get more and more ridiculous to be considered enjoyable anymore. And quite honestly, stupid bathroom humor just doesn’t cut it. Call me whatever you want, I prefer my animated movies to have some depth to them; and, while this movie did have several heartfelt moments – consider the mute tutu-wearing, bicycle-riding bear Sonya, whose relationship mellows even Julien himself, it felt wholly lacking of something.

I will say that the addition of the characters, especially the insane Captain DuBois, did wonders for this movie. Had I been succumbed to ninety minutes of merely Julien’s antics or Alex’s self-obsession, I might have walked out of the theater. Instead, some truly well thought-out characters gave this movie the dimension it desperately needed.

Regarding dimensions, I saw this one in 3D, and it was definitely well-done in that aspect. The animation was crisp, and the 3D was well emphasized throughout the entire movie. Still, it didn’t compensate for that missing “oomph” that I truly thought this movie needed.

I guess my true complaint doesn’t necessarily lie in the movie itself; honestly, it has a lot going for it, and from what I’ve read so far, it seems to be really well-received. So, call me the minority – I’ll take it. My largest complaint is what I will call the “song of the sequel” – and it’s something Dreamworks seems to have nailed down pat. In my opinion, sequels aren’t something that should just be expected from the audience, nor should they be handed out willy-nilly by the production companies. Instead, they should be treated as a long-awaited present (such as was the case with the Toy Story trilogy, and what is now happening with Monster’s Inc.) While companies like Disney/Pixar have been able to maximize the creation of sequels to their advantage, what Dreamworks hasn’t seemed to realize is that their method of milking dry even the most remotely “successful” ideas isn’t necessarily always the best thing for their bottom line.

I have a feeling that most people who have so far enjoyed the Madagascar movies will also enjoy this one, so I’m not going to tell anyone that it’s not worth seeing. Instead, I would just like to put my two cents out there, as someone who finds perpetual sequel whoring to be somewhat lazy and increasingly boring. While I understand that this isn’t always the case by any means, I think it should be noted that there have been ten (TEN!) Shrek “sequels” and spinoffs (this includes straight-to-DVD releases and TV specials and the incredibly popular Puss in Boots). Maybe it’s just me, but I find that to be just the slightest bit ridiculous.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – 6.5/10

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