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Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - Review

Madagascar 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

GIVEN the hit-and-miss nature of the Madagascar franchise so far the success of this third instalment is all the more refreshing.

It’s colourful, often insane and consistently more inventive than either of its predecessors, clearly benefitting from the presence of Noah Baumbach on co-writing duties.

True, some of its wilder plot indulgences fail to pass up to much scrutiny (or the laws of physics or gravity) but audiences – and particularly kids – will be having too much fun to notice.

Picking up where the forgettable sequel left off, on the plains of Africa, this finds animal heroes Alex the lion (once again voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) growing bored of life and resolving to get back to their real home at New York’s zoo.

Enlisting the help of those psychopathic penguins (still the franchise’s biggest asset) and King Julien XIII (it’s Ja-Ja Binks), they head there via Europe but wind up falling foul of France’s top animal controls inspector and being forced to join the circus for cover.

Admittedly, the plot is the film’s weakest element, particularly as it doesn’t develop any of the central characters, rams home its messages and follows the same predictable path of the first two films.

But it comes alive during the set pieces, many of which are ridiculously OTT and absurdly entertaining.

An early chase sequence through the French Riviera sets the standard and is followed up with some fun circus routines, some comical training in The Alps and a grand finale in New York.

It’s during these moments that the characters also come to life, thriving on the film’s mix of Tex Avery inspired tomfoolery and surreal humour (of the Baumbach/Stiller variety).

Frances McDormand’s villainous Captain Chantel DuBois makes a welcome addition, too, as does the wordless gorilla that leaves King Louis smitten, while the grandiose nature of the set pieces has clearly been conceived with the 3D in mind.

All told, Madagascar 3 is a surprise package and something of a family-friendly romp.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 93mins
UK Release Date: October 19, 2012