Penguins of Madagascar
I really enjoy the works of DreamWorks Animation, but I wish it would consider a change in management. The problem that their having these days is that so many other animation companies have to started to rise, that DreamWorks seems to be stuck in the past. What I love about their movies was that they were the out of the box guys that was a god opposite to Disney. Rather then tell the traditional story, it knew how to be cynical and enjoyable to a universal audience. Franchises like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon are all examples of how DreamWorks should be remembered for.
Then there’s also the Madagascar franchise; boy has this one been troubling for me. While I know that the film’s have been received well by audiences and had made good money at the box office, it hasn’t won me over. I mentioned before in my review of Madagascar 3 that the Looney Tunes humor was not mixing well with the CGI. It was the third film that was finally adapting to the necessary fast pace to make it work. I still didn’t get into it but I’m always welcome to it persuading me. Let’s see how Penguins of Madagascar does.
It starts in Antarctica on our three cuddly guys, Skipper, Kowalski and Rico kids who don’t feel like that they belong with the rest of the wild penguins. They rescue and egg from some seal leopards and watch it hatch. Out comes the fourth member, private who decides that he wants a respectable place among the friends. We cut to moments after Madagascar 3 where the penguins have snuck into Fort Knox for a celebratory mission in occasion of their anniversary. It’s cut short when an old Zoo mate returns to put his revenge in action
Dave the octopus (played by John Malkovich) is angry that the penguins have always received attention at the zoos while his kind has been seen as more gross then cuddly. He tries to destroy them in Venice, Italy, but that gets called off when some Artic region animals come in to help. A wolf named Classified (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) a harp seal Short Fuse (played by Ken Jeong), a polar bear Corporal and a snow owl Eva are all members of an animal spy organization called The North Wind. The penguins don’t see the need for help, but may have to reconsider when Dave may be more dangerous then they thought.
In the Madagascar films, the penguins are usually my favorite characters, which makes sense that they got their own show on Nickelodeon (though I’ve never watched it). I was hoping that the movie may go crazier, but instead it feels like the franchise is trying to take a step back to its roots. Penguins of Madagascar really wants to be an origins story, a spy story, a revenge story, a love story, a friendship story…I would have been happy to see this, but there isn’t much focus.
One of the problems here is that while the penguins are entertaining in the previous movies, this one only proves that they work better in smaller doses. These guys don’t have much personality outside of being military-like. Sure they have separate jobs, but without strong characters, this falls flat quick. The one character that did have some great buildup was John Malkovich as the octopus. He’s got the great origin and manages to bring out some great jokes. Some of the animation brings out the quicker movement, especially the action scenes. Had the characters been more interesting, I might have ranked this in the Looney Tunes category, but this is merely a kids only adventure. I don’t see much for the adults here.
I’ll give this three octopuses out of five. Fans of the previous movies and children are the ones that will enjoy this. I just hope that DreamWorks’ next project is something that everyone can watch.