In the opening moments of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the film seems like a series going through the motions. This was my first adventure into the Madagascar series but from what I have heard about this series from critics is that this has been a stale series from the beginning. However, as this third film in the series moves along it slowly finds some life in it. With a new cast of characters coming along for the ride in this adventure, there is just more to see and enjoy.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted follows Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (voiced by Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer) and Gloria (voiced b Jada Pinkett Smith) the elephant as they try to find their way back home to New York City. On the way home they begin to be followed by an aggressive animal catcher (voiced by Frances McDormand) and must join an animal circus to hide from her. The film is directed by Eric Darnell (who co-directed the other two films in the series), Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon. The film is written by Darnell and (oddly) Noah Baumbach.
From the start this seems to be a film that’s lagging. This really isn’t this film’s fault, as it seems that it is just trying to pick up the pieces of a film series that never really had that many pieces to begin with. However, as the film gets into its second half it begins to have fun. It finally begins to introduce some interesting characters (let’s face it, there is nothing interesting about the four lead characters), and the sequences begin to become visually interesting.
The best thing this film does, though, is that it finally gets an interesting voice cast. No offense to Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith but they do the least interesting work in any major animated film franchise. Luckily, the list of supporting voices this film is able to get is quite staggering. Oddly Frances McDormand is perfect as the villainous animal catcher while Martin Short is hilarious as the main source of comedy in this film in the shape of a circus seal. The real steals of the show though are Bryan Cranston and Jessica Chastain with almost unrecognizable voices as a Russian tiger and an Italian jaguar respectively.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is able to overcome it’s franchise’s poor roots by delivering a fun adventure.