Weighing in on Dreamwork’s Madagascar series. Is it the end?

14 Aug

By Ed Sum

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“I Like to Move It, Move It,” may very well be Dreamworks’s mantra for pushing the product line that’s associated with the movie, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. The adventure will be in locating the merchandise, since not every toy store or food franchise operation will have the items that die-hard fans are looking for. As for the video releases, hopefully a box set is in the works. This series can benefit assuming the series is finally done and over with.

With the third film, Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) and Marty the Zebra’s (Chris Rock) adventures are going to come to an end. They miss living in the New York city zoo. Ever since the beginning, all Alex wanted to do is to belong, and find a place that is comfortably his after being displaced. While he can blame part of that and the misadventures the animals have with Marty the Zebra, at least he demonstrates charity. If there was any animosity between the two, none exists by the third film.

This series lasting appeal comes from the fact that it teaches good family values to young and old alike about being together through thick and thin. After the first two movies, this hodgepodge group of zoo animals finds that they really have to stick together. Without each other, they are stuck in a quagmire.

To watch the movies from the first film to the third really shows how far the “Madagascar animals” have developed as a team. Even some love develops between Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer).

When they decide that it is finally time to make their way home, the tale picks up from where the second movie left off. The animals agree with Alex to go plead with the penguins (who are partying it up in Monte Carlo with the monkeys) to take them home.

Penguins

Only their technological sophistication can save the day. Although the cute and cuddly penguins have a greater role in this story, they are still bit part characters. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are really underutilized; they can fare better in their own television show, even though that universe is separate from the movies. Even King Julian and Co. get shoved aside in favor of focusing the tale on Alex and how he can convince Vitaly the Tiger (Bryan Cranston), to save the circus that the crew joined.

Whenever the secondary characters get their screen time, the story is not as amusing. The plot of King Julien falling in love with a bear is unnecessary, and the tale of animal control officer, Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) wanting Alex’s head is not a concept to really share with young children. This character is far too creepy in a product that touted itself as lighthearted and fun.

Even the humour is not as witty as it has been in the previous films. But at least this movie returns to its roots. The animals find being with the circus to be the best thing in their lives and it satisfies the plot introduced in the first film. Marty has seen a good part of the world now.

The future of this franchise is uncertain due to conflicting reports given by Empire Online and MSNBC. Director Eric Darnell has been quoted by Japan Times to say, “Fortunately, people loved ‘Madagascar 2′ and we were able to make the third film in what is really a trilogy and tell the whole story … and the other thing is even if the world wants ‘Madagascar 4,’ we have to make sure that we have an idea that is incredible, that is great, that is unexpected.”

The feeling this film puts forth suggests that the series is finally at an end. There is nothing more for Alex to do. If there are more movies, it will have to focus on another character. As disappointing as that news may be, thankfully the Penguins will survive on television, airing as re-runs. Although this series is currently on hiatus, at least the only thing moving along is a movie featuring these arctic birds. The film is expected to release early 2015.

Sources: JapanTimes, Empire Online, MSNBC

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