Genre(s): Animated, Comedy, Adventure
DreamWorks Animation | PG – 93 min. – $54.99 | October 16, 2012
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath
Writer(s): Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach (screenplay)
Voice Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short
Theatrical Release Date: June 8, 2012
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Trivia Track, Deleted Scenes, Blu-ray Copy, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 40.2 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.0/5
With successful releases of the Shrek movies (well, all but the third outing), Kung Fu Panda and its sequel, Monsters vs. Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon and now the Madagascar franchise, DreamWorks Animation has quickly established itself second to Disney’s Pixar and, in some instances, its equal.
The latest addition is Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted takes place immediately after the evens of Escape 2 Africa, finding New York Central Zoo escapees Alex the Lion (BEN STILLER), Marty the Zebra (CHRIS ROCK), Melman the Giraffe (DAVID SCHWIMMER) and Gloria the Hippo (JADA PINKETT SMITH) still on the loose and fighting to get back home after being left stranded in Africa after the Penguins, the monkeys and King Julien (SACHA BARON COHEN) have taken off in the airplane headed for Monte Carlo.
Rather than waiting around, Alex and the gang make their way to Monte Carlo to catch up with the Penguins, before taking the long journey home back to the Big Apple. When they find the Penguins living it up, with the assist of the monkeys who has disguised themselves as the King of Versailles, they get the attention of Animal Control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (FRANCES MCDORMAND) who has a propensity of capturing exotic animals and hanging their heads on her wall (quite dark for a kids’ film), and she sets her sights on Alex. The gang manages to make their escape from DuBois and her crew from the streets and rooftops, eventually, getting to the plane, taking to the skies until the engines cut out and crashing in a train yard.
With DuBois still on their heels, they come upon a traveling circus and attempt to talk their way on a train car to evade pursuit. There, they meet a new cast of circus characters: Gia the jaguar (JESSICA CHASTAIN), Stefano the sea lion (MARTIN SHORT), and the suspicious and emotionally damaged Vitaly the tiger (BRYAN CRANSTON). Their luck seems to have changed for the better as the circus is going to travel to Rome and then London in order to impress a promoter who will then take them to New York City. The gang even uses the Penguins’ Monte Carlo winnings to buy the circus only to discover… well, they suck as circus performers. In order to accomplish their goals of getting back home, the gang helps the circus get better all the while eluding capture from DuBois.
I have to admit, the Madagascar films has been one of my favorite animated series, perhaps second only to Pixar’s Toy Story movies. While Escape 2 Africa wasn’t the best, it still was highly entertaining but this third entry hits each and every note from the comedy to the action/adventure elements. Everything seems to jell together.
Once again, one of the highlights with the franchise is the voice talents attached. Ben Stiller shines with both comedy and emotion (for a kids movie anyway); Chris Rock isn’t obnoxious and is quite funny; Jada Pinkett Smith provides the female demo (though she’s not entirely memorable when compared with the others); and David Schwimmer basically plays an extension, albeit amplified, of his neurotic Ross character. In addition to the series mainstays, the film also introduces a host of great new characters highlighted by Frances McDormand as the movie’s antagonist.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is in my view the best film of the series. Sure, it might not compare very well with Pixar’s Toy Story franchise (what does?), but it’s certainly second best providing light-hearted comedy and adventure the whole family will enjoy. Unlike fellow DreamWorks Animated Shrek the Third, this is a series that’s hitting its stride and never gets old including the “Penguins of Madagascar” spin-off TV series (and apparently the Penguins will also get their own feature film).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
The 3-disc release comes inside a standard Blu-ray case with a matted slip cover.
Filmmakers’ Commentary features Directors Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon and Tom McGrath as they discuss the nuances of making the Madagascar sequel but provide some fun in the process.
Big Top Cast (13:38; HD) introduces the voice cast, both old new, with interviews and the actors’ recording sessions.
Deleted Scenes (6:18; HD) contains 3 test shots which obviously didn’t make the cut. Each contains an intro with one of the directors.
Mad Music Mash-Up (1:00; HD) is just a bunch of scenes from the movie with “Move It” playing over it.
Ringmasters (15:27; HD) – Based on the light-hearted voice over, I believe this ‘making-of’ originally aired on some kids-centric network or maybe the Internet. Basically, the filmmakers take the viewer on a tour of the DreamWorks Animation studios.
Madagascar 3 Roundtable (3:48; HD) finds the four main voice cast members chatting about the franchise and the latest installment. While cool, I wish it was longer.
Get Them to the Train is an interactive game where you help Alex and the gang get to their next gig, first matching each character to his/her painted box car and then using arrows to adjust the cannon to your desired target location.
The Animators’ Corner is a picture-in-picture feature where the directors talk about the movie, present storyboards and some behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the animators and filmmakers.
Trivia Track just as some pop-up fun-facts about the production or whatever is occurring on-screen.
Previews – Rise of the Guardians, Kung Fu Panda Holiday (Special)
VIDEO – 5.0/5
DreamWorks Animation brings Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted onto Blu-ray with Amazing clarify with brilliant and bright colors. It’s no surprise that animated movies benefit greatly from the high-definition format but still here it looks fantastic with a crisp transfer showing no signs of banding.
About the 3D version, it too looks incredible. Now, I didn’t see the movie in theaters so I can’t compare it, but the depth is excellent and I noticed no major amount of ghosting. Parents and kids alike will enjoy the heck out of this 3D transfer.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The disc includes a robust and resounding Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which showcases the action/adventure elements as well as the quieter, more dialogue centric moments as well. It’s not always a given that these lossless tracks are successful but here I was pleasantly surprised with how strong it is, giving as close to a theatrical experience at home.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a fun, light-hearted, comedy-adventure flick that both parents and kids will enjoy. The Blu-ray combo set has a fine set of features to keep one busy for a couple of hours and excellent audio/video transfers. This is a no-brainer and blind-buy if you haven’t seen it, purchase especially if you already own the first two movies.