Madagascar 3 : Europe’s Most Wanted

Okay I probably shouldn’t even pretend to be a “Hapuriainen’s Disney Blog” any more with 2/3 of the posts being non-Disney… “Hapuriainen’s Animation Blog” will have to do, it’s not like I spent much thought with the first name anyway.

To the film, since this was the second sequel to a movie I didn’t find that amazing in the first place (and I thought the first sequel was awful) my expectations weren’t particularly high, but surprisingly this one wasn’t that bad. The story begins with our heroes Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippopotamus and Melman the giraffe hanging out in Africa where we last saw them at the end of Madagascar 2, waiting for the penguin crew to return from their gambling trip in Monte Carlo and take them back to their home New York. When the penguins show no signs of returning and the heroes get homesick enough they decide to follow the penguins and get them follow the plan. After an insane action sequence there they end up in a traveling circus, which will get the chance to go on an American tour if they manage to impress a promoter. And since this isn’t crazy enough already, they have a crazy Animal Control officer Captain DuBois chasing them in order to get Alex’s head to her collection.

Firstly, three and a half minutes and we’ve already had a dream sequence and and a flashback. I’ve seen the previous instalments but I thought that was pretty confusing.

Overall, it was difficult for me to care about what was going on. The animals’ quest to get back to New York didn’t move me at all in any point, and the obligatory “You lied to us!” part feels very forced. The stakes were low all the time; characters either succeeded or failed pretty randomly depending on what the plot required instead of what would have made sense. Like the hippopotamus not being able to break through a wall, but the human villain crashing through numerous walls suffering no damage, or Alex being in danger for standing on top of a train when the train is headed to a tunnel while Marty can be shot from a cannon full of dynamite straight at a stone wall and being perfectly ok, or the car crashing down from a large building is supposedly dangerous, while a plane crash takes place during a single cut and nobody got hurt in it, or… the list goes on. And while the chase scene at the beginning was fun and had a lot of amusing ideas it suffers from this randomness with the characters pulling out bizarre solutions, throwing snarky one liners, being all calm and sarcastic, and suffering massive damage that really does nothing over and over again. And the climax was fun even if the stakes were nonexistent (because at that point I had well learned not to even try to care), but there was just too much stuff going on that I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

Alex is the only of the old cast who gets anything to call a story, being our viewpoint character to the whole returning home thing and getting both a romance and a bromance. Marty, Gloria and Melman on the other hand end up being boring baggage the movie has to carry because they were important in the first movie of the series. Gloria and Melman’s performance in the movie amounts to Melman saying “I can’t dance!” and Gloria going “Just put your arms around me!” and Melman then being all “I can dance!”, and despite having seen the film two hours ago I can’t remember any more if Marty did anything that was relevant to the plot or developed his character (not that Melman learning to dance was much of a character development either). But frankly, if you’re not going to do anything proper with the characters I’d rather have it this way instead of giving each of them their own forced subplot and expecting me to care about it (like in Ice Age 4).

Surprisingly, the movie actually managed to get me to care about the new characters; usually for sequels I’m in to see what will happen to the old characters I know and hopefully like and the new guys and their story often end up as annoying distractions to the actually interesting stuff. But this time, not only was I interested in Vitaly the circus tiger’s story, it ended up being my favourite part of the movie. Sadly it was resolved two thirds into the film and nothing in the last half a hour could get me nearly as invested.

vitaly

The other new characters didn’t interest me that much. The villain and the Girl of the circus were okay and didn’t make me want to switch off or mute the TV. The sea lion on the other hand belongs to the same group as Sid of Ice Age but manages to be less annoying, not that it’s much of an achievement though. What is this appeal to these “dumb” characters? Did I like them when I was young? I can’t remember. Oh, right, there was this female bear with whom King Julian the lemur had a very bizarre romance, I got nothing on that.

The best characters are again the penguins (of course!). Sadly they didn’t get nearly enough screen time since I think practically everything they do is fun. I hear they’re getting their own movie in the future, not sure what to think of that. They are awesome, but I’m not sure if they can support a whole movie; they work so well as competent and confident side characters while the main characters get all scared and confused, but making them the main characters would mean you’d (probably) have to give them inner conflicts and stuff like that.

penguins

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