HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9542[/img]Title: Madagascar 3 : Europe's Most Wanted
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jada Pinckett-Smith, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Written by: Eric Darnell
Studio: Dreamworks Pictures
Runtime: 93 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 16th, 2012
HTS Overall Score:89
Da da da da da da da da afro circus afro circus, polka dot polka dot afro circus!!!! GAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t get that song out of my head!!!!! The “Madagascar” series has always been about characters doing wild and crazy antics causing all of us viewers to go “ooooooooooooooooooo shiny” and cheer rather than regale us with excellent plot and character driven story. “Madagascar” was solid hit for Dreamworks studios and was marred by a rather lackluster sequel. Now we have a third installment to the series and we can only hope that it’s not worse than the previous sequel. Luckily for us, “Madagascar 3 : Europe’s Most Wanted” is a big step up from its predecessor. Still not as fun as the original, but sequels rarely are. The Madagascar series has always been that “good but not great” type of series for Dreamworks, it lacks the wit of the “Shrek” series and the fantastic relationships that the “Ice Age” series is known for, but what it lacks it substance “Madagascar” and its sequels make up for in antics; I mean, we have a lemur that falls in love with a Ducati riding circus bear, a zebra dancing around with a rainbow colored afro wig and polka dots along with a Tiger that spreads hair conditioner on himself to jump through hoops.
“Madagascar 3” pretty much allows the viewer to ignore the happenings of “Madagascar 2” and has us waving off the penguins and monkeys as they go off on a gambling binge in Madagascar. Alex the Lion (Stiller) is panicked as usual, just SURE that the penguins will forget about them and hatches a plan to travel to Madagascar and kidnap the penguins, forcing them to FINALLY take them back to America in their Monkey powered plane. Getting TO Madagascar is the easy part, getting out is a whole nother story. Not only does Julien (Cohen) the power crazed Lemur mess up the plan, but Captain Chantel Dubois (Francis McDormand), the head of the French animal control unit, wants Alex’s head for her trophy collection. Chasing them down with unrelenting enthusiasm Dubois forces the monkey plane to crash and sends our friends fleeing for their lives on foot. As she is about to catch them Marty, Melmin, Gloria, Alex and crew stow away on a circus train headed for Rome.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9543[/img]As fate would have it the Penguins purchase the circus and Alex sees it as a chance to get home, all he has to do is whip this rag tag group of has-been’s into shape, impress an American circus promoter in Rome and that should get them a free pass to a New York, easy, right? Problem is that this Circus has lost its heart, they used to be a fantastic circus headlining all over Europe with the Great Vitaly (the fantastic Bryon Cranston), a fearless tiger who specializes in the impossible. After an accident that left his body and mind damaged Vitaly only goes through the motions and as with most leaders, when the head loses heart, the rest of the body follows him into mediocrity. Alex and crew decide that what this circus needs is a breath of fresh air, completely redoing the theme and feel of the circus Alex gets the entire crew to revamp their routing and strive for something better, even the depressed Vitaly. However, this newfound trust and friendship is on rocky ground, Captain Dubois is right on their tales and Alex is withholding the truth from his new friends on the purpose of their voyage to the United States. Can their friendship overcome these obstacles? Well, that’s for you to find out
“Madagascar 3” is a bit rocky and uneven, but still an enjoyable ride. The first half of the film suffers from being just a tad bit too silly and clichéd for its own good. The characters are a bit flat and one dimensional and Captain Dubois tends to draw the camaraderie down due to her being a bit too over the top and ridiculous. However, once we meet the circus crew the fun starts to really kick in. Alex, Melmin, Marty and Gloria have always meshed well together, but the real stars of the show are in the penguins and the new circus crew. The Penguins have ALWAYS carried the previous films and are in top form here as well. Vitaly and Gia (Jessica Chastain) however are a welcome new addition to the silliness. Bryan Cranstan is an actor that can make a poor film seem decent just by his presence alone and Jessica Chastain is an up and coming star that really knows how to work the audience. Chastain really brings heart and warmth to the character Gia and Cranston is phenomenal as the bitter, borscht drinking Tiger. As fun and silly as the circus storyline is nothing prepared me for the totally entertaining Finale where we have Alex and crew finding out just how bittersweet their American homecoming is. I mean we don’t just have a circus; we have an entire AFRO circus!!! I don’t know why but that afro wig that came with the Blu-ray has been adorning my head and allowing me to drive my wife crazy singing the Afro Circus song. While the film had a rough start it definitely picks up into a fun, family friendly movie that both kids and adults can enjoy.
Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9541[/img]Wow! That’s all I can say after seeing this visual spectacle. Animation has always been at the pinnacle of Blu-ray eye candy lists, but Madagascar 3 stands among the big boys. One look is all it takes and you know you’re in for a visual treat. Lines are crisp and clean with no jaggies in site. You can see every hair, every curve and every accessory on each and every characters body. Colors are absolutely GORGEOUS, from the bright over the top neon colors of the circus down to the earthy and rich flesh (or fur shall we say) tones of Alex the Lion and company. Banding is usually the worst problem for an animated film and we are blessed to have nary a hint of banding, couple that with some absolutely flawless animated detail and we are really cooking. Whiskers are shiny, fur is perfectly replicated and water effects sliding across our heroes are exquisitely replicated in full 1080p glory. Textures are absolutely stunning and definitely show the benefits of the Blu-ray. Comparing the DVD to the Blu-ray only solidified my conclusion that even animated films (no matter how good they look on DVD) just can’t compare to the added breathing room that a Blu-ray can provide. Bravo Dreamworks, bravo.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9540[/img]“Madagascar 3” presents us with a rich and vibrant 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack to revel in. Immersive is the best way that I can describe this track without being overly clichéd. The viewer is taken from their chairs and thrust into the whirlwind center of this tour de force and is completely enveloped. The dialogue is centered cleans up front as one would hope, but the surrounds take us from just technical study to a whole nother level. Sea Lions are shot from one side of the room to another while puppies blast around on rocket powered skates leaving the viewer ducking their heads so as not to get hit by the living projectiles. LFE is rich and deep, but nothing overly thunderous, coming in when needed during action scenes and accenting the musical portion of the film. This track is a dazzling display of energy and sheer explosiveness transcoded to sound, definitely one to match with the impressiveness of the already stunning Video encode.
• Get Them To the Train
• The Animators' Corner
• Trivia Track
• Big Top Cast
• Deleted Scenes
• Mad Music Mash-Up
• Ringer Masters
• Madagascar 3 Roundtable
• Filmmakers' Commentary
• Sneak Peak at "How to train your Dragon" live action musical
While the first half of the movie was a little slow and clichéd, the second half actually took on a life of its own and actually brought some real heart and soul into the film. Bryan Cranston rarely, if ever, disappoints and the lovely Jessica Chastain breathes life into characters that are otherwise fairly flat. "Madagascar 3" doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but just because something new and exciting isn't shown on screen doesn't mean the ride is any less fun. Fun for all ages and if you’re a fan of the first "Madagascar" you won’t be disappointed in this latest installment (especially if you WERE disappointed in the lackluster second film). Couple that with some mind boggling audio/video scores and you’ll be in for a great family night
Buy Madagascar 3 on Blu-ray
Recommendation: Rent It