Sunday, November 30, 2014

Penguins Of Madagascar

Year: 2014
Directors: Eric Darnell & Simon J Smith
Voice cast: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich

Plot: The penguins face off against Dave the octopus, who wants revenge against them for stealing his spotlight at the zoo many years ago.

Review: The penguins from the Madagascar films finally get their own movie. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private return in their very own adventure after proving they're worthy of it in pretty much every Madagascar film so far.

In this film, the penguins break into Fort Knox to celebrate Private's birthday, only to run into the tentacles of Dave, an octopus who is bitter over losing his spotlight at the zoo to them when they arrived. Now he plans to not only destroy them, but all penguins around the world as well. Then, a clandestine group of animals called the North Wind blows in, who aim to protect all animals and plan to stop Dave, preferably without the penguins' interference.

Credit should be given to directors Simon J Smith and Eric Darnell for coming up with a mostly witty and fast paced film, which is largely helped by a sharp script from writers John Aboud, Brandon Sawyer and Michael Colton. Watching the penguins get themselves repeatedly in and out of trouble, mostly by not having a plan is downright fun. The opening sequence featuring how Private was born and joins the group is cool too. The action sequences are also well thought out and executed, the best being a chase through Venice between the penguins and Dave's goons. Speaking of Dave, the writers manage to execute some solid comedy by having famous actors' names in his speech (for example: Nicolas, Cage them!). There's plenty more you can find later on. Kudos also to John Malkovich for his great voice work here (they even made the octopus look like him).

The film however starts to slow down in the final stretch as the plot gets thinner and the laughs start to slow down a bit. The North Wind animals themselves aren't that interesting to begin with, save for Agent Classified, the dog voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. The film's last third is partially saved by the drama involving Private's desire to be a more crucial member of the quartet, after being dismissed frequently by Skipper. 

At this point, I don't know if the penguins deserve a sequel, but if they can come up with a good script that can sustain itself all the way to the end next time, I'm all for it. For now, Penguins Of Madagascar is entertaining enough to spend 90 minutes on. (7/10)

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