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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
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When the newly crowned Queen Elsa accidentally uses her power to turn things into ice to curse her home in infinite winter, her sister, Anna, teams up with a mountain man, his playful reindeer, and a snowman to change the weather condition.
When Gru, the world's most super-bad turned super-dad has been recruited by a team of officials to stop lethal muscle and a host of Gru's own, He has to fight back with new gadgetry, cars, and more minion madness.
Super spy teams aren't born...they're hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome and husky Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then...you know). Together, they must stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, from destroying the world as we know it. Written by
The Most Inevitable of Spin-off's Has Finally Arrived
The Most Inevitable of Spin-off's Has Finally Arrived: Although it is far from unwatchable, the cute antics of the Penguins from Dreamwork Animation's highly successful "Madagascar" franchise have finally begun to reach their tipping point, and now risk becoming simply another side-character annoyance.
When the first "Madagascar" movie came out in 2005, I was a big fan. Now, given, I was nine at the time, and admittedly filled the target audience for this film a bit more then I do now, but as the sequels have come out in 2008 and 2012, I have continued to find the "Madgascar" franchise a fun series, albeit one without the emotional or cinematic depth of other family offerings from companies like Pixar, or family films from overseas.
For kids, the vibrant colours of the animation, the fast-paced humour in the script and lovable characters of this series have proved too good to resist each time. For this reason, a spin-off featuring the penguins is no surprise, as they were one of the most memorable things about the original trilogy, for children and critics alike.
The question going into this movie was whether the penguins could carry the weight of their own solo movie. Time and time again, franchises have tried putting increasing focus on side characters, only to ruin what made the first film so good, and even sometimes make us question why we liked those characters in the first place. This was the test "Penguins of Madagascar" had to pass in order to not only be a worthwhile movie, but also for the possible future success of the "Madagascar" franchise.
One of the things that the movie does well, but inconsistently, is humour. There is a joke fired about twice a minute, resulting in many funny moments, but also far more examples where a joke falls flat on its face. The opening scene featuring our protagonists Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico's origins is cute and funny, and features simultaneously the films funniest moment, and the most emotionally resonant. For this scene, the addition of a documentary crew determined to make an interesting documentary about penguins at any cost, proves to be a highlight.
A problem with some spin-offs is lead characters having to become more developed to suit being a lead character in the story, and making this believable for fans of the original works by in keeping with that character. Fortunately, for the most part, this is the case in the film, however there is clear examples throughout of when extra tension and characteristics are added just to add some emotional depth to the story, and sometimes this doesn't feel in tune with what we know about the protagonists.
The animation is creative for the most part, and while the character designs and background aren't exactly original, it suits the look of the film. Voicework is assisted by stars John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch, who liven up the characters and really personify them.
Although it's funny, the characters stay enjoyable, the animation is solid, and the voice work is spot on, these feats are largely overshadowed by what the movie didn't do very well. The third act of the movie completely halts the progress of the first two-thirds, and the ridiculous motivation used by the main villain becomes too much of a problem to put up with as the movie nears its end.
The unbelievable added tension between main characters also clearly highlights the fact that they are not equipped to be main characters, and flaws such as the plot and lack of development of characters are joked about in meta ways, which just doesn't make up for the poorness of the storytelling. Although the audience is predominantly children, the writers aren't, and they should know better then to cover up their own laziness with such band-aid methods.
The movie struggles to work, but stays watchable with the occasional solid laugh it provides. The frenetic nature of the plot and the jokes keep the pace going so fast that no individual moments stay annoying for too long. However, because of this, no moments truly land, and the jokes and scenes in the "Madagascar" series seemed to have a lot more clarity and purpose to them.
Overall, the movie doesn't achieve the already modest highs of the preceding trilogy of films, if only just for the reason that the main characters were designed as sidekicks, and the four penguins just don't make for compelling enough protagonists. The movie remains OK throughout and even good at times until the last act which becomes far less funny, and a typical and uninspired final action scene also sets this movie on a collision course directly for mediocrity, and ultimately ends up dragging the movie down into becoming a failure.
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