Saturday, June 9, 2012

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - Afros, Afros Everywhere

After following the journey of four zoo animals as they try to make it back home from a shipping accident, two movies have gone by with a good deal of humor as well as a few anomalies in the continuity. With their last stop, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, we finally get to see if the 7-year journey from Point A to Point B was worth it. As it turns out, I still have no idea if it was.

Following up from the end of the Madagascar 2, Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) is still waiting for the penguins to come back in their makeshift plane to bring him and his friends back to New York. After a nightmare relating to the passage of time, Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippopotamus (Jada Pinkett Smith) surprise Alex on his birthday with a mud replica of New York city, complete with a miniature zoo. This ends up making the lion even more homesick, and he comes up with an idea to go after the penguins. Cut to the four of them rising out of the waters of Monte Carlo (yes, it seems they managed to swim the great distance from Africa to Europe), Alex's plan is put into action. All goes according to plan until they crash through the ceiling of the casino where the penguins were, at which point they make their getaway, but not without attracting a very persistent woman from animal control. After another crash landing in the plane from earlier, the animals manage to evade authorities by hiding in a train full of circus animals, who are coincidentally on their way to New York. With animal control still on their tail, the animals decide to use the circus as a way to get home, forming friendships and learning secrets along the way.

With the amount of time between this installment and the second, the animation has greatly improved, appearing and flowing more realistically. Seeing this in 3D certainly helps the presentation as it brings a certain amount of depth to the action, though I will admit that several parts of the movie seem to be made specifically for 3D viewing, like seeing characters' faces even closer to your own. Aside from that, I also enjoyed the voice acting for the most part, including the voices of new and returning animal characters and Frank Welker's performance as a bear.

The humor, on the other hand, is debatable as to whether it has gotten better. While there aren't any lowbrow jokes in this one, the best lines to me again came from the penguins, who are laugh riots as usual whenever they have screen presence. Otherwise some scenes have their moments, but more often than not fall flat in the funny department, although I'm sure someone much younger than me would be able to find the movie even funnier than I did.

The movie also seems to have mixed feelings on humans. The aforementioned persistent woman, Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), shows feats of strength comparable to the Hulk and seems to be a bit too thorough in her animal tracking skills. On the other hand, she and her comrades are at the end placed in a situation that bookends with the first movie, which seems to imply a swift demise when one stops to think about it.

One thing that I personally had mixed feelings about was the music. Hans Zimmer once again proves that he knows how to set up the tone of a scene and does so flawlessly. On the subject of the other music though, while the soundtrack was mostly good, there was a particular moment where a French song is used to rile the spirirts of hospitalized animal control people, in fact instantly healing them, which seems like it would make more sense to someone who actually spoke the language. Then of course there's the bit with Marty singing about Circus Afros, used endlessly in the advertisements, which only gets more and more grating every time it's heard. However if the audience I was with is any indication, younger kids may find it enjoyable, as the Madagascar series largely appeals to that crowd.

If I may, there was one small thing that bugged me a little, and that was a piece of product placement. In a scene where DuBoi escapes from a cell, an Italian guard asks about a couple of sounds, the second of which blatantly describes a printer as one from HP. While this was the only instance of this sort of advertising, it seems rather odd that that of all things would be written into the actual script.

Overall, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is actually better than I expected, but I still feel kind of iffy about it. It has a good plot and most of the music and performances are strong, but there are a few moments that drag the experience down a little. In the end though, I would still recommend this movie, if only for someone to be able to complete their Madagascar experience. If this is the end of the road for these characters, then while I'm satisfied that it ended well for them, this isn't exactly a journey I would take again any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment