By Jeff Walls, Seattle Movie Critic
Those zany fugitives from the Central Park Zoo are back and still trying to find their way home in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. They escaped to the titular country way back in 2005and then escaped to mainland Africa three years later. Each of the previous movies definitely had their charms and the third film proves to live up to—if not surpass—its predecessors, but will our castaways finally find their way back to New York?
When we last left them—Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippo—they were stranded in Africa and that is where they still reside when me meet up with them again. The movie opens with the penguins using their monkey-powered aircraft to fly to Monte Carlo, promising to return for Alex and company. When it becomes clear that theydon’t intend to keep that promise, Alex decides it is time to take action and the foursome venture to France—because, apparently, it was just that easy. Although they try to lay low, they soon find themselves being chased throughout the city by a dogged animal control officer who is determined to put Alex’s head up on her wall.
In order to escape capture, the gang hops aboard a circus train bound for Rome, Italy. Upon learning that after Rome, the circus will be in London performing in front of an American promoter, the gang immediately decide that joining the circus is their best chance of returning home. Unfortunately, after getting a glimpse at the disaster that is the circus’ performance in Rome, it becomes clear that there is no way this crew could impress the promoter to the point that he would take them to New York. Fortunately, they have some time to improve on the act,as long as they keep ahead of Captain DuBois’ continued pursuit.
Madagascar is proving to be one of those rare franchises that actually gets better with each passing chapter. Despite Alex’s fears conveyed in an early nightmare sequence, the characters have not aged a bit and the franchise’s sense of humor is just as fresh today as it was seven years ago. Each of the main characters gets their moment to shine in this movie; the highlight definitely being Marty’s “Afro Circus” jingle, which, delightfully, returned for an encore during the closing credits. Go ahead, just try to get that number out of your head. Additionally, this third chapter introduces us to some new characters who are a lot of fun and who could continue to be if the series moves forward.
The question becomes, will the franchise move forward. Without giving anything away, I will tell you that our characters do reach a point of closure in this movie; much like the toys of Toy Story did in their last movie. Still, the possibilities are there for continued adventures, but one has to wonder if the characters will become less interesting if the emotional core of the story isna longer there.
No matter what happens in possible future chapters, it will not change the fact that Madagascar 3 is a thoroughly entertaining flick. The animation is phenomenal, especially during the movie’s two impressive action sequences. The movie also makes very good use of the 3D technology.Without being too obvious about throwing things directly at the audience, the extra dimension does add more to the movie than purely extra visual depth. I think I even ducked at one point.
Although I enjoyed the movie, I know that I am definitely not the movie’s target audience. Fortunately, I can happily report that my five-year-old guest reviewer was equally entertained,making this one of those movies that parents should be perfectly okay with taking their kids to.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is rated PG for “some mild action and rude humor.” There are a couple of jokes that are inappropriate for younger viewers, but it’s very unlikely that they will understand them anyway.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted