Penguins of Madagascar
Penguins of Madagascar TV show intro
Penguins of Madagascar
Directors: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith
Writers: John Aboud, Michael Colton, Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Brandon Sawyer, Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons
Voice Cast: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare, Andy Richter, Danny Jacobs, Sean Charmatz, Werner Herzog, Stephen Kearin, Kelly Cooney
Synopsis: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private join forces with undercover organization The North Wind to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine from destroying the world as we know it.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
3.5 / 10
- Great animation, and funny character designs.
- The rotating camera work is excellent, as it gives the film a classic "James Bond" type feel to it.
- 3-D effects are great
- Penguins are funny.
- The new characters are poorly developed
- The film is very predictable, as you can see every plot point coming from a mile away.
- The comedy aspects of the film are hit or miss most of the time; with a great deal of them missing.
- The cameo during the end credit scene won't make sense if you've never seen either the TV series or the previous "Madagascar" films.
- The alleged romance between one of the penguins and the owl comes out of nowhere
- Poorly written script.
We were never mates...THERE WAS NO MATING!!!
To be honest, I never seen any of the previous "Madagascar" films prior to seeing this movie. Granted, I have heard of the series, and I have watched a few of the episodes of the Penguin spin off TV show before, on Nickelodeon. Therefore, I wouldn't say I'm completely unfamiliar with the characters, and it doesn't seem like you have to be either to enjoy this feature.
From the way the story is told, it seems fairly self contained for the most part. Granted, there's a couple of characters that you're not going to know who they are if you're new to the franchise, but they don't show up until the end credit scene for a brief cameo anyway. Hence, they're not that important for the overall story, in this particular film, other than to provide fan service at the end credits. Apart from those two characters that have cameos during that end credit sequence, the rest of the characters are introduced sensibly to where even if you're new to the franchise, then it does provide you a brief backstory to get you caught up to speed.
The movie follows a group of penguins that act like secret agents going on all sorts of missions together. The story shows elements of their past, as we see how the group came together in the icy plains of Antarctica. Displaying how four penguins chose to defy nature itself, and forge their own destinies in life.
Fast forward years later, the penguins are all grown up. It's the Private's birthday, so the penguins decide to celebrate by breaking into Fort Knox. Not to steal gold mind you. No, that would be too obvious. Nah, they break in, so they can use the vending machine that contains the cheesy puff snacks they love so much. After successfully breaking into one of the most heavily secured facilities in the world, the penguins somehow get kidnapped by an evil mad scientist, who turns out to be an octopus in disguise named Dave.
According to Dave, he used to be one of the main attractions at the New York City Zoo. Crowds loved him for all the tricks he could do, but he claims that the penguins stole his thunder because of their immeasurable cuteness. Somehow this leads to a series of events that left Dave a bitter old octopus over the years, to where now he wants to get revenge on all the penguins of the world by turning them into monsters.
Of course, our protagonists inevitably try to escape, but they're saved by a group of animal secret agents known as "The North Wind", who's led by a devilishly handsome and mysterious wolf named Agent Classified. Granted, that's not his real name, but the film never bothers to tell us what his real name is because...well...it's classified. Moving on.
From there, the movie plays out like a satirical kid adventure version of a classic "James Bond" flick. Complete with high tech gadgets, bad puns, cool poses and lots of things that go boom.
The story is basically your run of the mill kids' film that offers little in terms of surprises. You know exactly how the story is going to turn out from beginning to end, as you can see every plot point coming from a mile away. For example, one of the penguins has a crush on an owl, who happens to be a member of the North Wind. Throughout the film, he pines for her from afar, even though she shows little to no interest in him.
And guess what? For no reason whatsoever, she kisses him at the end. Take in mind, these characters get ZERO screen time together to develop any chemistry, yet they kiss. Granted, I know this particular penguin wasn't the focus of the movie, but it feels forced. I could understand if this was meant to be some kind of running gag, but where's the punch line? How was an owl kissing a penguin funny? Granted, your happy to see the guy get a kiss from the girl that he likes. However, in context to how it's presented in the movie, it feels a bit forced because it comes up out of nowhere with no logical reason behind it at all.
Of course, we also have Private, who serves as the main character of this story. At the beginning of the movie, it's shown that he's the youngest member of the group, which is why the others tend to treat him like their baby brother. Yet, all he wants is to prove to his commanding officer and surrogate father figure, Skipper, that he's an equal member of the team. However, Skipper still sees him as the adorable little rascal he rescued all those years ago.
And given this type of setup, you know exactly how it plays out; which makes "Penguins of Madagascar" arguably one of the most predictable animated movies that I've ever seen. But does that mean it's a bad movie? After all, one can argue that almost every Disney animated film is predictable, yet many of those are considered classics in society. Could this film be more about the journey rather than the destination?
Could Dreamworks possibly redeem an extremely predictable story arc with memorable moments and characters? Funny jokes that'll make us enjoy the ride so much in spite of it's unoriginal premise? Sadly, the quick answer to all these questions is no. As many of my readers know, I can be very forgiving when it comes to most animated movies being predictable if they make up for it by giving us a memorable experience. Unfortunately, this one fails to do any of those things.
Most of the new characters they introduced are barely fleshed out to where you don't even give a damn about any of them. The villain is nothing more than a generic stereotype that's hellbent on revenge. All the jokes are hit or miss half the time, with a great deal of them missing.
Outside of the hysterical comedic interactions involving the penguins themselves, the majority of this movie isn't that funny or memorable to say the least. Not only does "Penguins of Madagascar" fall into every cliché in the book, but it doesn't even seem like Dreamworks was trying to make this movie great on any level. It's almost as if they just expected the name recognition alone to carry the film, which is a bad way to do any sort of spin off flick.
Overall, "Penguins of Madagascar" is arguably one of the worst animated movies that I've seen all year. Unless your a huge fan of the franchise, then I would probably avoid this one completely. In fact, I would probably recommend audiences to go check out "Big Hero 6" instead. Granted, "Big Hero 6" has a predictable story as well, but unlike "Penguins of Madagascar", it'll give you plenty of memorable moments you can draw from that'll make it worth seeing in theaters.
© 2014 Steven Daniels