“Dat dat datta datta dat dat circus; afro circus afro circus polka dot polka dot polka dot AFRO!”
- Marty, MADAGASCAR 3 (2012)
Two movies, a S$1.4 billion box office and a Universal Studios theme park attraction later, this mega franchise is back with a third installment that is very much a fun exercise in 3D. While rival Pixar sticks to their beloved method of heartwarming storytelling, the DreamWorks brand seems to steadfastly depart from that territory, and this film - with its explosions of neon colours and madcap character animation - does pop-up zaniness quite brilliantly.
After the landscape of Madagascar in the first movie and the wild plains of Africa in the second, the backdrop this time is the continent of Europe. Monte Carlo first provides a welcome urban jungle complete with mad animal captor Captain Chantel Dubois (a deliciously obsessive Frances McDormand) hot on the heels of Alex and team.
And when our favourite bunch fortunately bumps into a traveling circus troupe of animals, they take it as a ticket ride home to New York, but not before the writers use the Colosseum, Vatican City and even the Swiss alps as a visual playground to display some thrilling obstacles.
Pixar famously used a bevy of new characters to wonderful effect in Toy Story 3, and Madagascar 3 follows suit here with a muscular version of Kellogg the tiger (Bryan Cranston), an adorably bumbling sea lion (Martin Short) and a sensuous Jaguar (voiced to perfection by The Help’s Jessica Chastain).
Ben Stiller leads the usual suspects as Alex the micro-managing not-so-courageous lion, with the hyperactive Chris Rock returning as Marty the zebra. Jada Pinkett Smith and David Shwimmer round off the group as Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe respectively.
The additions are crucial to freshen things up. Although animation - with their colourful characters that can almost be included in every plausible situation - seems more convenient to extend into a franchise (the Ice Age series is pushing its fourth movie this year!), DreamWorks should take a leaf out of Shrek, whose cinematic standards seemed to have decreased as the series progressed.
But safe to say, Madagascar 3(D) is at times visually dazzling and endearingly incoherent (Sonia the bear should be considered a breakthrough in animated characterisation), and should delight both kids and their parents.
As featured on InCinemas.sg.