When Madagascar was first released in 2005, it didn’t exactly strike me as the kind of movie with legs or one that would continue with multiple sequels. Sure, it was a hit movie, but it didn’t exactly leave a lasting impression on me. Yet, here we are seven years later with the release of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the series’ third movie.
The first movie offered a cute premise, and the second movie (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) was almost entirely forgettable soon after leaving the theater. The third movie falls between the first and second.
Madagascar 3 offers circus fun along with a bit of sensory overload in the form of 3-D visuals. It’s mostly an enjoyable watch, though not the kind of movie that sticks with you (but neither were the other two).
The second sequel takes the gang of Central Park Zoo escapees, including Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), from Africa off to Monte Carlo, Rome and London as they attempt to return home to New York City. King Julien the Lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen) and the always-comical penguins also return for the third flick.
As part of their journey back home, they end up joining and reviving a down-and-out circus. They are met with some resistance from Vitaly the Tiger (Bryan Cranston), but welcomed with open arms by Gia the Jaguar (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Sea Lion (Martin Short).
They also encounter the wrath of animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) who’d love to have a lion’s head to mount on her trophy wall of animals.
I’d actually recommend checking this out in 3-D, that is, as long as you can stand the visual overload. Youngsters will particularly enjoy the objects that frequently appear to protrude from the screen. Though frenetic, the level of 3-D is impressive compared to other flicks where sometimes you forget the movie is in 3-D because there is barely a difference between it and the 2-D version. No one will be making that mistake here. This 3-D is actually worth the premium ticket price, but one sequence I could have done without was the elaborate scene set to Katy Perry’s grating Firework song.
Marty and the penguins are the standout characters; the other ones all have bland, interchangeable personalities. And I can’t deny that Marty’s Afro Circus song is super catchy. It was definitely stuck in my head after the movie.
One particularly odd story going on in the background was King Julien’s love affair with a mute bear. I got the joke, little lemur loves big bear, but I still found it bizarre that all the other animals could talk, but not the bear.
The Madagascar series has always been rather light on the life lessons and moral messages, with a greater emphasis on the comedy. This movie continues that trend. Still, summer at the movies should be a fun experience, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted fits the bill. ••
Movie Grade: B+