Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thoughts on "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted"

Since it's coming out in a couple of weeks, I figured I'd offer my thoughts on DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last Friday to very good reception. The film currently sits at 80% on critics aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, though that score may go up or down. All I can say is, I'm very surprised, because out of all the animated films coming out this year, I wasn't really looking forward to this one.

From the two trailers I saw in theaters, this looked like a loud, frenetic mess. I enjoyed the first film a lot, though its second half was lacking. Its 2008 sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, was dialogue-heavy. The story at least tried to develop the main characters. The results? Both films are average, but enjoyable with very colorful animation and fun character designs. The jokes were funny for the most part, nothing really cringeworthy.

Now DreamWorks has been getting better. Since Kung Fu Panda, their films were a little less derivative and less dependent on pop culture jokes. How to Train Your Dragon was the real shocker, though it wasn't perfect, it is currently the closest thing to Pixar that the studio has put out. DreamWorks even put effort into the three sequels Shrek Forever After, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, which were more story-driven while also having lots of comedy. The upcoming Rise of the Guardians looks beautiful, something I wouldn't say about say... Shark Tale or Bee Movie.

I was afraid that DreamWorks would deliver another derivative film with this sequel and go back to their pre-2008 roots. The trailers, I felt, were bad. They make the film look like something that's on speed. Early reviews did indeed say it was frenetic, but they also praised the film. Apparently DreamWorks delivered a fun, funny and witty adventure with this finale to their zoo gang series. While I was dissatisfied with the trailers, I was surprised to see that Noah Baumbach co-wrote the screenplay, who wrote for several Wes Anderson films including his spectacular stop-motion film Fantastic Mr. Fox. The reviews are also praising the film's circus scenes, since the plot involves Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria joining a traveling circus, which are very colorful and nice to look at. Those shots were my favorite parts of the recent trailer, so that's a scene I'm looking forward to. I will also admit that Marty's "afro circus" line is pretty funny.

With all that said, I am now looking forward to seeing this film. Even though the trailers didn't really do much for me, I ultimately decided a few weeks ago that I'd give it a chance since the first two were satisfying. As for the box office, this'll probably be washed away by Brave and Ice Age: Continental Drift domestically, but worldwide, it should do very well. The European setting was obviously picked because this series is huge in Europe, so it's perfect for DreamWorks and the revenue will support their more ambitious upcoming films. It'll be a nice animated treat before Brave hits theaters.

Are you looking forward to this film? Or do you plan on skipping it? What did you think of Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa? Sound off!

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