Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is the latest installment of the franchise from DreamWorks. I’ve always felt like the series was colorful, fun, and easygoing, but nothing out of this world or extremely revolutionary. That’s how I feel about this film as well. It’s amusing, lively, goes down easy, but it doesn’t break any ground or have any real drive behind it. It’s junk food in the animated world.In the third chapter, the gang is still trying to get back to New York, but instead they find themselves in Europe joining the circus. The circus gang is convinced that they are part of another circus, which is why they agree to let them join their show. As they say, the circus stays together. Before long, they discover that Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) can help them regain their desire and love for the circus and infuse some passion into it.
The new characters that are introduced in this film include Stefano the sea lion (Martin Short), Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain), and Vitaly the tiger (Bryan Cranston). There is also a subplot involving a romance between Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Sonya the bear (Frank Welker), even though there is a clear difference in their size. There is also an incredibly skilled and gifted villain in the film named Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand). She can fly through buildings with relative ease, yet seems to have extreme difficultly capturing these zoo animals on the loose.
Madagascar 3 is an example of a sequel that tries to throw everything and anything at the audience. It’s fast paced, in your face, very vibrant, and doesn’t slow down until about thirty minutes until the film ends. Kids, I’m sure, will love it with the cute animals, over the top voices, and high flying, in-your-face action. Personally, I felt like the film lacked consistent heart, which didn’t come into focus until too late in the film, a moving scene involving a tiger that has issues thanks to a stunt gone wrong. A more balanced approach of heart and humor would have made a more effective film.
In the end, Madagascar 3 is a good time waster for parents that are unsure what to do with their children on a warm day. For everyone else, it’s purely a rental. I have not seen Brave yet, but it might be a better choice of an animated film for a general audience. Sadly, I didn’t feel like they were too motivated with this project, as it was way over the top and a more subtle approach would have produced a better quality film. The voice work is rather forgettable and it all feels a little too ordinary, run of the mill, and just simply OK. DreamWorks has done better films in the past, such as the Kung Fu Panda series, and I hope their next project returns them to their previous glory.
How should you see it? Rent it