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Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/16/2012

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/17/2012

While Fox and Sony have certainly thrown their hats in the ring with the Ice Age series and projects like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs respectively, Pixar and Dreamworks still dominate contemporary computer generated animated films. They've both had their share of hits, with Dreamworks focusing more on series, while Pixar has released more "stand alone" films. (Although, Pixar certainly doesn't balk at releasing more Toy Story movies and a Monsters Inc. sequel is on the way.) Also, there is a definite difference in the tones of their films -- Pixar movies lean more towards the dramatic and serious, while Dreamworks movies are more about having a good time. It's this attitude which has actually hurt some of Dreamworks' entries, as their movies, such as Shrek, are too scattershot in their approach. However, something like this was bound to work sooner or later, which brings us to the non-stop party which is Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

Madagascar 3 opens with the conclusion of Madagascar 2. Our heroes, Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the Giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer) have been stranded in Africa and they still long to return to the home in the Central Park Zoo. The Penguins, led by Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) have rebuilt an old plane and plan to fly to Monte Carlo in order to get funds to finance a trip back to New York (I'm a little fuzzy on this plan.) The Penguins (and a few monkeys) leave and Alex is convinced that they aren't coming back. So, the group swims to Monte Carlo (I'm a little fuzzy on this as well.) Once there, they discover that the Penguins have dressed the monkeys up as "The King of Versailles" and they are having their way in the casinos. Alex and his friends break up this party and soon the whole group is back aboard the plane. However, they've gotten the attention of Captain Chantal DuBois (voiced by Frances McDormand) of animal control, who vows to capture the group. The plane crashes, and desperate to leave the area, the group cons their way onto a circus train. There, they meet Vitaly the Lion (voiced by Bryan Cranston), Stefano the Sea Lion (voiced by Martin Short), and Gia the Cheetah (voiced by Jessica Chastain). Vitaly doesn't want to accept the strangers, but when Alex claims that they are circus animals, he agrees. The group learns that the circus may be traveling to America, as they see this as a chance to get home. However, in order to leave Europe, the circus most be excellent and it's up to Alex to whip the other animals into shape. Meanwhile, DuBois refuses to give up the chase.

As Madagascar 3 opened, I realized that I didn't remember a thing from Madagascar 2, which I know I've seen at least twice. This didn't bode well for the third film. However, any doubts were quickly dashed when the movie segued into a very exciting and well-crafted chase scene. This set the tone for a movie which has a fairly linear plot, very clear-cut goals for the protagonists, and a memorable villain. Again, Dreamworks films often cast a wide net in terms of story and especially in terms of jokes. While Madagascar 3 certainly has its share of weird ideas (more on that in a moment), the movie proves that less is more by keeping things simple. The lack of a convoluted plot (and the fact that the movie conveniently skips over seemingly important information) allows for the characters and the humor to shine. Could it be argued that Madagascar 3 is too simple? Of course. And while I enjoy a rich, multi-layered story, there's nothing wrong with a kid's movie not beating around the bush. However, that shouldn't imply that the movie is shallow. We still get a number of characters and a cohesive plot -- it simply isn't weighed down by unnecessary things.

The important thing is that we get what are we expecting from the movie -- laughs. Madagascar 3 contains many funny moments, either stemming from sight gags or funny lines, and everything that you've loved from the previous films continues to shine here. Alex still over-analyzes everything, while Marty never puts thought into any decision. I know that the penguins get on some people's nerves, but I think they're funny and they have some nice scenes here. Of course, the Madagascar movies have always had a weird streak and we certainly get that here. The whole "King of Versailles" thing is pretty strange and the gag continues throughout the film. King Julien (voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen) has always been the weirdest character in the films and he continues that here as he discovers a new love. To call this weird would be an understatement, but it's undeniably funny.

I really didn't know what to expect from Madagascar 3. I knew of the circus subplot from the trailers, and as this was used in Open Season 3, I didn't have high hopes for an original story. The movie doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to. The movie is fast-paced, colorful, and funny. The ending is satisfying, and you'll like how the foreshadowing pays off. For those of you who are thinking about avoiding Madagascar 3 due to the "afro-circus" commercials, never fear, this is only done twice in the film, and doesn't dominate the movie as the ads would imply.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted snorkels across the ocean on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. This must be a digital-to-digital transfer, as it looks perfects. The colors look fantastic, as the film features many bright and neon colors. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture has a nice amount of depth, even in this 2D version. The level of detail is very satisfying and never reveals any flaws in the animation. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Simply listen to the opening chase scene to get an idea of how great this track is. The stereo and surround sound effects are very detailed and we can easily pick out specific sounds in the various speakers. The separation is good and the sound effects never overpower the dialogue. The subwoofer effects are good as well, providing "oomph" without creating distortion.

The Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, and Tom McGrath. The viewer can also choose to view the film with "The Animator's Corner", a picture-in-picture feature which is hosted by Darnell, Vernon, and McGrath. This features concept art, storyboards, and interviews with the animators. In addition, one can choose to watch the movie with the "Trivia Track", which provides pop-up info on the film. "Get Them to the Train" is a set-top game. "Big Top Cast" (14 minutes) shows the voice actors at work in the recording studio, as well as interview with the cast who discuss their characters. The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes and are all presented in "test" form, which mixes pencil animation with very basic CG animation. "Mad Music Mash-up" (1 minute) is simply a music video which uses the song from the end credits. "Ringmasters" (15 minutes) takes us into two different locations of Dreamworks Animation for a day to show the movie being made. "Madagascar 3 Roundtable" (4 minutes) features a conversation with Stiller, Rock, Pinkett Smith, and Schwimmer talking about the three movies.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long