Cinematic franchises are prone to being unoriginal, uninspired, and most importantly, in high demand. But while there’s an abundance of mediocre sequels and prequels - Men In Black III being the most recent example - quality is often scarce.
Mark Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted as a film that proves the be the exception to the rule of lackluster sequels. It’s a keen, creative, and unique entry into this family friendly milieu that had (up until this point) been mostly disposable. The movie contains elements (ranging from an enjoyably bizarre antagonist to light humor to thrilling chase sequences) that will appeal to both children and adults.
In what should be the concluding film of the trilogy, our four friendly animals – Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) – are determined to get back to their cozy zoo in New York City.
The only issue is that they’re stranded in Africa. Their last thread of hope of getting back to the Big Apple is a trip to Monte Carlo, where they’ll meet with some old penguin friends and attempt to hitch a ride back to the States by joining a broken-down traveling circus.
As one may expect (considering you’ve read the title of this film), their departure doesn’t going according to plan when malevolent animal control Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) goes through extraordinary measures to make sure these four animals never reach home.
On the run from DuBois – who almost singlehandedly makes this film worth viewing – it’s the friendship between these four animals that keep us involved. Each animal evolves in one way or another, while comically playing off each other.
The film’s 3D animation is put to good use in each of the equally surprisingly satisfying action sequences. Especially during a couple scenes that include a race through the streets of Monaco and a climactic stand off and battle through the beautifully imagined skyline of New York City.
Madagascar 3 pulls out all the works. Indie film naturalist Noah Baumbach pens a screenplay with genuine wit. Maddeningly brilliant composer Hans Zimmer (he composed Inception, The Dark Knight, and Lion King) hits notes of happiness and sadness. And directors Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vermon deliver a wholly satisfying finale that is visually constructed with exuberance.
Most of all though, the film has a message worth grasping: Sometimes it takes a departure from your comfort zone to truly understand what you have in life and what’s important to you.