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Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Released 19 October 2012

Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon

Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston
Writer(s) Eric Darnell, Noah Baumbach
Producer(s) Mireille Soria, Mark Swift
Origin United States
Running Time 93 minutes
Genre Animation, adventure, comedy
Rating G

Away with the circus.

First they escaped New York City zoo for the island of Madagascar, then, in the sequel, they escaped to mainland Africa (the wonderfully awful subtitle Escape 2 Africa serving the double purpose of reminding us that this is the second one, and at the same time being a literal description of the film’s plot).

But now the unlikely foursome of Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock, doing a bad impression of Eddie Murphy’s Donkey from Shrek), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) have grown tired of their freedom and long for the comfort of their old home. However the journey from Africa to New York proves difficult. As the animals travel across Europe they end up joining a failing circus while being pursued by the law through a backdrop of various countries.

Not afraid of jumping on the bandwagon of current trends, Madagascar 3 is the first episode in this series to be released in 3D. Surprisingly 3D is not just a gimmick here – it is pretty much the main defining characteristic of the film. Barely a scene goes by where something doesn’t leap off the screen and into the audience. The kids in the audience will no doubt be impressed.

The lack of plot description in the title this time around is not an oversight. It is actually quite accurate, given that there isn’t really much in the way of plot in the actual film either. A lot of things happen, but mostly it is a series of unrelated jokes and nicely designed effects sequences, tied loosely tougher with the most basic narrative structure. The worst moments are when the writers try to throw in a few nods to the older audience, as all of these jokes fall flat on their face. Indeed bar the delightfully colourful and campy visuals that are very enjoyable in their own right, there is nothing about this film to appeal to anybody over the age of ten.

Madagascar is a decently successful children’s film that will probably keep its young audience entertained. But it is not the best in the series, and indeed there have been a lot better children’s films released this year too.

The circus plays a big part in the events of Madagascar 3, and indeed the film has a lot in common with a circus performance. It is primarily about the visuals, the dazzling spectacle of the show, and any narrative journey or depth of story telling is very much secondary to this. And for what it is worth, Madagascar puts in a good show. Not a particularly memorable one, and like a tired old circus act, it is nothing you won’t have seen before.

- Bernard O’Rourke