Spoiled by their upbringing with no idea what wild life is really like, four animals from New York Central Zoo escape, unwittingly assisted by four absconding penguins, and find themselves in Madagascar, among a bunch of merry lemurs
The sea underworld is shaken up when the son of the shark mob boss is found dead and a young fish named Oscar is found at the scene. Being a bottom feeder, Oscar takes advantage of the situation and makes himself look like he killed the finned mobster. Oscar soon comes to realize that his claim may have serious consequences. Written by
Round two of the Pixar/Dreamworks choose-a-theme competition scores once again for Pixar.
Remember when a few years ago there were two animated ant movies to choose from? I think they even came at the same time in the theaters in my country. One was AntZ, the other was A Bug's Life. The first one was rumoured to be more suited to adults, the other a kiddie movie. While that statement had some merit, at the end it turned out that A Bug's Life was a far better movie entertainment-wise, despite cuter characters and simpler story and all that kiddie-like appearance. AntZ were just plain dull.
Pixar seems to like choosing a simple story, one that a kid can understand, and than building upon it creating a wonderful movie for all ages. Dreamworks builds his scripts on pop-culture references and more adult themes, and while it works sometimes (Shrek was fantastic), at other times it just falls flat.
Some say it's unfair to compare Finding Nemo and Shark Tale, them being totally different movies with the only matching characteristic being antropomorphic fish, but it seems that the comparison is inevitable. It's the ants thing all over again. Finding Nemo was simply wonderful, great movie with a perfect sense of humour and memorable characters. Sure, they were cute and cuddly, but they had a soul.
Shark Tale, again, tries to appeal to the adults, but this time the results are even worse. The characters are not so important as the cast is, even so much that we are being sledgehammered on the head in who's playing who. A word to the wise - I don't care how big the names doing the voicework are, I want to immerse in the movie's story. When I saw Shrek, I didn't see Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy there, I saw Shrek and Donkey. Here I see De Niro, Smith, Scorsese and so on. At one point I even caught myself wondering why the other fish keep calling Will Smith "Oscar".
As for the story, it kind of drags along. I couldn't really sympathize with the lead character - he is at the same time stupid and so full of himself that I didn't care about his motivations or the messes he got himself into. Also, somehow the story didn't map so well in the underwater world. What is the Shark mafia exactly ? Are they supposed to be predators or criminals? Basically the mafia thing is here only to serve as a playground for mob-movie references, but it serves no purpose story-wise. Also, the entire world seems very unbelievable. Flahing electrical neon signs? Fire hydrants? It actually backfires, since instead of getting a kick out of fishes living like humans, mostly you feel like you're watching an alien movie, with the aliens resembling our world's fishes in some ways.
All in all, I did enjoy the movie, but only in the sense that I didn't feel cheated out of my money. A couple of the jokes worked, some pop-culture references were funny, the movie was not too boring. But when I remember that after Nemo or Incredibles I was smiling even a few hours after the movie, then I see that Shark Tale ain't what it possibly could be. It's just a popcorn movie, easily forgettable. And rightfully so.
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