|Madagascar 3 movie review; Cast: Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock; Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon; Rating: ***
As a film franchise progresses, its creators face a unique problem. They cannot abandon old, popular characters yet they have to also try to bring something fresh by introducing new ones. What happens when one tries to resolve both the conflicts? The answer is Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
Our four friends and their sidekicks love Africa, but miss New York. After much deliberations, they decide to go back to their zoo. But this is a journey that will be extremely circuitous and take them through half of Europe, see them owning a circus, fight off a terminator-like animal catcher before they finally make their dream come true.
The lion, the zebra, the giraffe and the hippo are back, without slack and this time besides their usual ensemble that includes the four smart penguins they also have a cheetah, a tiger, sea lion, elephant and dogs -- basically the entire circus.
The film is full of so many characters that there's no space for any breather. "Madagascar 3" thus goes ahead at three times the speed of the original. And while this would have been bad in some circumstances, what saves the film is the original gags that are worked out very well.
And even though one gag follows another in quick succession, you don't feel the strain of the fun.
What also makes the film fun is a terminator-like animal catcher, who just does not let up. She follows our animals through Europe into America, with the sole intention to hunt them down. She is the most interesting addition to the ensemble list of new characters in the film.
There are so many characters that there's hardly any room for any subplots or time enough to dwell too much on one character. Hence, it is a miracle that the film works at all. Perhaps it is true that a collection of gags could indeed make for a good film.
The animation is spot on. A large part of it was done in India and as you sit through the end credits, you see hundreds of Indian names rush up in the department. For someone thus inclined, this could become another reason to watch the film.
Despite the glitches, what one would like about the film is perhaps it is as far from reality as any film really can be. You sit back and relax with the film, and the only time you use your grey matter is in understanding and laughing with the gags.