Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted 3D Blu-ray Review
The MADAGASCAR series is kind of the forgotten animated series for Dreamworks Animation, living in the shadows of the critically acclaimed Kung-Fu Panda series and the widely popular Shrek films. Although the first one was enjoyable, the second MADAGASCAR film was almost a series killer. So it was hard to get too excited when MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED came out. As we all know (and is proven with the Ice Age films), a moderately successful animated film will spawn sequels and kids will go see them no matter what. But a funny thing happened on my way to being disappointed with the third Madagascar film; I found myself laughing out loud and really enjoying the plights of Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and the rest of the gang.
We pick up with the gang right where the second film left off; they’re stranded in Africa, waiting for the penguins to win some money in Monte Carlo and come back for them. As they grow impatient, they decide to hitch a ride to Monte Carlo and “rescue” the penguins. Once there, they immediately catch the attention of the evil Captain DuBois (Frances McDormand), who is eager to mount Alex’s head on her wall. This prompts the gang to hide out with a group of circus animals and hatch a plan to impress an American circus promoter who they hope will get them back to New York City.
With an all-star cast, it was hard not to be let down in the first two films by the lack of comedy, but the third film uses the cast pretty well, creating a series of jokes and gags that keep the film rolling. Watching Marty dance around while singing the circus song is laugh out loud funny and it came at a great point in the film. A lot of the jokes had good timing and although the story was lackluster at times, the jokes and the funny dialogue kept everything on pace.
As much as I laughed at the jokes and was impressed with the visuals, the story structure in the third MADAGASCAR film still feels second rate compared to other, similar animated titles. On one hand, it’s enough to just get the voice actors together and have them say some funny lines, but on the other hand, the bar for animated films is higher now than what it was 10 years ago. We want more from our animation than just a series of random gags.
Overall, parents should be very pleased with the film as it’s safe enough for the youngsters in the audience but funny enough to keep the adults entertained. The story doesn’t always work and it needed some sophistication, but the film makes up for it with some fantastic 3D visuals and animation.
3D BLU-RAY REVIEW
I’ve been looking for a reference-quality 3D Blu-ray to use to show off my 3D set up and I think I may have found it with MADAGASCAR 3. This short animated feature had some of the best use of 3D I’ve seen on Blu-ray and the great 3D makes the entire film worthwhile. The animators start to show off towards the end when they put on the big circus show and that might be the scene you use to put your new 3D system on display.
Video: As I alluded to in the 3D section, the video quality is fantastic. Say what you want about the Madagascar films, but the animation and the use of colors is beautiful.
Audio: The audio was just as impressive as the video
Big Top Cast (13:37): A little featurette where the voice cast members discuss their characters and the voices they use for them.
Deleted Scenes (6:17): Three deleted scenes that didn’t quite make it to the finished product with introductions from the directors.
Mad Music Mash-Up (0:59): A short musical number surrounding the “Afro Circus” bit.
Ringmasters (15:26): This is a cool featurette where we get to follow the directors on a day while making the film.
Madagascar 3 Roundtable (3:47): The four main players (Ben Stiller, Chris Rock , Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer) talk about the franchise and some of their memories from the experience.
Filmmaker’s Commentary with Directors Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon and Tom McGrath: An interesting commentary where the three go into great detail about the making of the film.
Get Them to the Train: A game where you must shoot the characters out of a cannon into the coinciding train car.
The Animator’s Corner: A neat little picture-in-picture feature where viewers can see the animation in various stages and see some behind-the-scenes footage.