‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ Review
A sequel that’s the best of the series, and a jolly good family fun time.
Though the ‘Madagascar’ franchise has never really been known for being the best that animation has to offer, it has global recognition and works well because audiences love the characters. From the previews, ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ looked like another recycled entry in the franchise just like the last one was. But you would be surprised to know that not only is it actually funny and visually striking thanks to some great writing and character development, it actually out-does the original to be the best and most fitting end to the franchise.
The film follows the end of the last film, where Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are stranded in the middle of Africa with no way to get back home to the zoo in New York. Once they build a way to get out of there, they once again crash-land into a foreign country – this time it’s the midst of Europe. After catching heat with the authorities which puts them on a wanted list, they meet up with a travelling circus and manage to hatch a plan to get to New York in the most adventurous way possible.
I remember the first ‘Madagascar’ to be an enjoyable kids movie with a talented voice cast and some humorous moments, but that’s pretty much it. It was given sequel treatment back in 2008, in a movie that I frankly did not end up enjoying a lot. It just felt like a rehash of the first film and the plot itself was a detour without actually adding anything interesting, and it definitely felt like the plot of the franchise is just going to be a different country in each film after watching the trailer for this three-quel. So expecting nothing more than yet another detour that will cash in on the success of the franchise for some summer blockbuster money, I began to watch the film. And I’m surprised to say that the film actually exceeded at being something more than that.
The first thing you will notice is that the writers actually deliver a good script on this one, with the focus being writing memorable characters with distinct quirks and personalities. We already had the gang of animals which already feel a lot different from each other, but even the new characters this time around and surprisingly memorable and interestingly written. We get this hardened female cop that is hilarious to watch because of her bizarrely determined personality and makes for a great villain at random intervals in the film. We are introduced to a whole new pack of circus animals this time around, and fortunately each and every one of them feel like three dimensional characters. There’s the lovable but goofy sea lion who dreams to fly in a canon, a beautiful lioness that acts as the leader, a rough tiger that isn’t the most friendly guy in the room but has a tragic past behind him. The script knows the strength of these characters and most of the humor comes from seeing them interact with each other and that’s what makes this movie so much more funnier than the previous ones.
Taking a page from the Pixar playbook, DreamWorks Animation made sure this time around that the film is not just fun strictly for kids and that adults find a lot in the film to be entertained by. This is why we have some surprisingly heartfelt and emotional content here that I did not expect from an installment of ‘Madagascar’ out of all places. There’s an entire backstory about the travelling circus that isn’t the most original but is very effective and gives a lot more depth to the proceedings and how the characters react. Adult audiences will definitely appreciate the fact that the film isn’t just dumbed down for the kids and feels more mature than its predecessors. They’re also the fact that unlike the last film, this one isn’t just some random adventure that doesn’t amount to anything on the big scheme of things. Without spoiling anything, the main conflict of the film is attempted to be resolved in a great way and this is the best ending that the franchise could ask for. But worry not – another one is being planned as we speak.
For those craving visuals, this is the most visual installment of the entire franchise and the movie makes sure that it provides you enough moments of it. The film is in 3D, and I’ve always said that it’s a no-brainer to watch an animated film in 3D because it benefits that medium best. The circus segments in the film are beautiful and vivid, which are definitely helped by the extra dimension. There are chase scenes sprinkled throughout the film and are high on action and visuals, no matter how over the top they get. Just all in all, this feels like an installment that they actually put a lot of effort into and made sure that it’s filled with energy, heart and humor for all ages. Are there problems? Sure, there are those little things all the time. The plot sometimes moves a little too fast and some of the side characters except for Alex have far less screen time this time around compared to the last two films, but that’s because a lot more characters step into the film.
If you’re looking for a reliable and fun time for the family and especially the kids for the weekend, ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ has got you covered. It’s funny, emotional, and visually imaginative to the extent that it actually redeems the franchise by not only giving you a surprisingly good experience, it also makes you excited for another adventure. And that’s something I could never say about the franchise before.