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Movie Review: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Rating: PG (mild motion, rude humor)
Length: 85 minutes
Release Date: June 8, 2012
Directed by: Eric Darnell
Genre: Comedy/Animation/Adventure

Stars: 3 out there of 5

The conventional wisdom about movie franchises is that every entry shall not surpass the previous one. There are some uncommon exceptions, such as for example "The Godfather" trilogy, where the sequel is widely considered to be more advanced than the groundbreaking original. Though "Madagascar 3: Europe's Many Wanted" is not any "Godfather: Component II," it is best than both the original film and the 2008 sequel.

The core cast is back, including Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), who is still the first choice of the pack that includes Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith). When "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" left away from, the group had teamed up with several other pets and settled in Africa, where they might forever be free. This movie picks where that movie left off up, although animals that joined company and Alex in the previous film are not around. No explanation is given for this, nonetheless it does conveniently allow writers Eric Noah and Darnell Baumbach to introduce a new set of zany characters.

When the film begins, the penguins from the prior movies have taken the group's airplane and flown across the Mediterranean to the French Riviera to accomplish some gambling. Their time in Monte Carlo is short-lived, though, as they cause a ruckus in the casino and so are promptly chased out. Believing that the penguins are a nuisance, internet casino workers contact animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand). DuBois is really a raging animal hater which will capture the ire of animal lovers everywhere probably. She is also relatively shrill and has a penchant for singing Edith Piaf music at inappropriate times.

Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria are clearly uninterested in their new lease of life in Africa. Though they imagined their freedom since they broke out of the zoo in the initial movie, they are missing their old Central Park home now. This is where the movie strains credibility a little. It is perfectly acceptable that they should have some wanderlust. Nevertheless, they decide they want to get back to captivity, which seems impossible after all they went through to flee and discover permanent freedom.

Regardless of how believable it really is that they would want to get back to captivity, the combined group takes off for Monte Carlo to become listed on the penguins. They snorkel across the ocean only to find DuBois popular on the trail of the penguins. Since they are friends with the penguins, they naturally become a target for DuBois as well.

This is where the action sequences begin, with Alex and company trying to stay a minumum of one step prior to the sadistic DuBois. Though the film comes in both 2D and 3D, these sequences are greatest enjoyed in 3D. The audience will undoubtedly be extremely entertained by the variety of animals that look like up close and personal due to the three dimensions.

The group isn't only trying to escape the clutches of DuBois, but they also are trying to help make their way across European countries to obtain back to NY. They find a train full of circus animals brought by Siberian tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) who are frantically rehearsing a big show. If they can draw of the show, they can get a contract to perform in the usa. Alex sees this as the group's way house. They decide to help the ragtag group which includes sea lion Stefano (Martin Brief) and jaguar Gia (Jessica Chastain) placed on a dazzling performance.

Thus giving the film the chance to stage a song-and-dance number much like what fans of the first two films might expect. The rehearsals before the big number provide a few of the biggest laughs in the complete film. It appears Stefano is much too eager to please and become liked, while Gia sexily slinks around, drawing the attention of a few of the males.

The movie integrates the new characters in to the film effortlessly, which is area of the reason this film is the greatest out of the entire trilogy arguably. The real standout will be McDormand as DuBois, who's as over-the-top as an animal control officer can get. She is hilarious and though a few of her jokes certainly are a bit mean-spirited, they are always commensurate with the character. In fact, the new and returning characters are therefore well-written that the viewers will likely leave the theater sad that this might be the last movie in the franchise. Maybe there is a "Madagascar 4?" No one knows at this time but, after this film, most viewers will hope a fourth movie is manufactured.

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