Madagascar 3 Review

Be afraid.

So you may have noticed Madagascar 3 got considerably good reviews this weekend. I have to say first, that I was not a fan of the first movie, but I really enjoyed the second. That being said, I think this was my least favorite.

If it wasn’t already painfully clear, there was no reason for another sequel. Dreamworks has begun to milk its cash cows. So it begins. Even though I already knew this, I was still surprised at the lack of continuity from the previous movie. There is no believable reason for these characters to want to go back to New York. The pacing is also too fast.

Obviously the biggest element of this movie. Although many of the gags are very creative and funny, they suffer from being too fast-paced and often to over-the-top compared to the previous movies. A major gag (and plot point) in the movie involves the Russian tiger jumping through a hoop the size of a ring. This would have been a hilarious gag if it hadn’t been drawn out to the beyond-absurd-point. Once you actually have time to think about it becomes increasingly less funny to where you just ask yourself, “Why?”
Another complaint: while there were some mild innuendos in the previous movies, this one had a few over-the-top, off-color gags as well. I could hear most of the audience groaning more than laughing.

Hans Zimmer. Nuff said.

I’ve always loved the character designs in these movies. The actual animation was my favorite part. As you’d expect Dreamworks Animation is beginning to rival that of Pixar. The circus scenes were my favorite, with beautiful, abstract visuals, creating lighting, music, and choreography.

The acting is great of course. Dreamworks always has a good cast, and Madagascar has made better use of its celebrity actors than most of their other movies. My complaint though, is that the fake European accents are painfully irritating. I seriously wanted to cover my ears.

The Story
My biggest complaint is with the story. Aside from there being no good reason for this movie to exist, it’s unbearably cliched. It’s nothing you can’t see everyday on Nickelodeon. It really offers nothing new. And  it’s so over-the-top that any take-away is left buried under an unholy plethora of gags. And if there is a take-away, it’s a pretty terrible one. The whole “message” (if you can even call it that) of the movie is that you can do anything and defy all odds and even do the physically impossible. Why? Well, they never really got to that part. You just can. This may sound good on the surface, but think about it for a second. The psychically impossible? Isn’t inherent impossibility something you want to avoid? Now, I know you’re already thinking about things like space travel and such. And yes, you should strive to set your mind on your goal. But I’m reminded of a certain high school commencement speech from this past week.

That’s right. You’re not special. This is a message we don’t, but need to hear often. I believe more that our true strength can only be achieved by first acknowledging our genuine limitations. Sometimes we just need to let go and acknowledge what we can’t do. And that’s okay. Then we can move forward and fulfill our true destiny. When I am weak, I am strong. Conversely, when I am strong, I am weak.
Need more proof? Think about this and go watch another Dreamworks title that I believe gets this profound message across: Kung Fu Panda (one of my favorites).