Penguins of Madagascar

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Vampire Owl :: I have received a letter from the vampire penguin.

Vampire Bat :: What does it say?

Vampire Owl :: It says that he is happy to announce the release of Penguins of Madagascar, a movie that make all the undead penguins proud, and he wants us to watch it in the name of the Universal Vampire Brotherhood.

Vampire Bat :: But I have already watched it.

Vampire Owl :: What? Then why did I see no opinion?

Vampire Bat :: Because I delayed it so that there would be gap between the posts.

Vampire Owl :: It is totally unfair. Now as the Vampire Penguin has demanded it, I have to watch it alone. What happened to watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1?

Vampire Bat :: Skipped it. Waiting for some inspiration for me watch it. Nobody has that much of an opinion and I have already read that book and has less hopes about this one.

Vampire Owl :: And then you watched the Penguins alone. A cruel move against me there.

Vampire Bat :: You can watch it with your zombie minions. It has some good ideas for owlification.

[Leaves for the bus stop].

The background :: Do you remember those penguins of the Central Park Zoo? Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private proved to be the smartest creatures around. They have been helping our heroes of the Madagascar series, Alex the lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the hippopotamus. We have had no option, but to love the penguins throughout the series. They have been too good, and it is clear that they always deserved a spin-off movie for themselves. Well, this is not just that spin-off, but also the sequel to Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted as the action continues from the circus itself as they go on to celebrate Private’s birthday. It is not really the continuation though, as Madagascar 4 is scheduled to be released on May 18th 2018, but as that date is too far away, lets be happy with this arrangement of the penguin characters for now.

What is it about? :: In a flashback, we see that somewhere in Antarctica, three little penguins, Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), and Rico (Conrad Vernon), save an egg from seals and end up floating far away on an iceberg. The egg hatches and becomes Private (Christopher Knights). Back to the present, as they go to steal from the United Sates treasury to enjoy Private’s birthday after the events of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the get caught by Dave (John Malkovich), an octopus who lives in the human costume of Dr. Octavius Brine after having to be transported from zoo to zoo due to new cute penguins coming. He is now looking for revenge on all penguin kind. As they try to escape, the Penguins are saved by a special force known as the North Wind, lead by, a wolf named Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), a seal named Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), a polar bear named Corporal (Peter Stormare), and an owl named Eva (Annet Mahendru). Due to some differences, the two teams decide to chase the villain through their own paths; will they succeed?

The defence of Penguins of Madagascar :: Once again, just like the other movies of the Madagascar series, this is lots of fun. There are some genuinely funny moments in this one, and they are just meant for evoking the laughter, making this one a big fun ride, and people are certain to be entertained. The penguins as well as the special animal forces are admirable characters, and this is an opportunity for us to know those characters whom we liked a lot in the franchise in a much better way. The family audiences with kids are going to love this one, that is for sure, and might not want to miss this one. The moments which involve the meeting of the two groups as well as the same with the villain along with that moment when all three groups meet are hilarious. The message is also nicely given, about the appearance not being that much of a factor. Even as the movie doesn’t go on to be one of the top three animated movies of the year as expected, it is really a powered entertainer.

The Claws of flaw :: It is pretty much sillier even considering the fact that it is an animated movie, and the predictability factor is once again big. There is nothing like the final extravaganza that the last movie in the franchise had offered, and even in 3D, this one offers much less compared to what was expected. There are ordinary moments in the movie too, and there are scenes which are extremely dumb, and the presence of those moments which fail to click are also present here and there, but they can still be avoided. This one is also weaker than the three other Madagascar movies, all of which are worth an eighty five and above in the score. This movie actually feeds on that impact that those three movies had created, and ends up extending the fanbase of the franchise. There are moments which are just created for the sake of being there, and the plot never really shows much scope, ever. There is repetition, no doubt about it. There is a chance that this will make the penguins less interesting with too much attention given here.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s first attention is on brotherhood for sure. But it is not the major theme here, as it focuses more on appearances as we can see right from the beginning. The penguin named Private is actually considered to be too cute, and the others feel that the only thing that he can do is to distract the opponent for the rest to take the appropriate action. The same is the case of all four penguins as far as the other animals and birds are concerned – they think that the penguins are too cute to do anything strong and significant. Most of the people here base their assumptions based on the looks and nobody really cares to give these people a try. But everything would change in the end, and it is to this finish which says that appearance doesn’t define the quality or brilliance of a person that the movie strives to reach. It is the appearance itself that creates the villain here, and the movie focuses so much on the same. Penguins of Madagascar never retreats from that aim as we see the traits everywhere.

How it finishes :: The big surprise here was that this movie had shows at more multiplexes than The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. That was surprising because it was clear that it really is the movie that everyone want to watch, its popularity only matched by just another sequel which would be the last part of The Hobbit which is also coming up. I would guess that the multiplexes decided to go completely with the family audiences this time instead of choosing the movie which the youth have been waiting for so long to watch. It is the same reason why the movie has evaded me so far, and another reason is that I know the story and don’t find the first part of the book interesting; even the last book as whole is the least interesting of the series. Yes, I wanted to watch it, but as the time came, I ended up choosing another movie again. Well, there is still time, but I do feel that many others have also done the same, which is why Penguins of Madagascar is doing well here.

Release date: 28th November 2014 (India), 26th November 2014 (USA)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Simon J. Smith, Eric Darnell
Starring (voice): Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare, Werner Herzog

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madagascar III

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The Madagascar glory :: It all started in 2005 as the tale of New York’s four zoo animals, Alex the Lion a.k.a the King of New York, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo begins with them landing on the island of Madagascar by accident after leading a happy and satisfied life in their own little worlds. It is my favourite movie of the series, and is one of the best beginnings to any series. Despite scoring better in the box-office, I would say that Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath is the weak link among the movies so far, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a definite improvement on the same. The series would become the twenty first highest grossing movie franchise of all time. I would not expect it to go any higher in the list though, as the animated movie series will have only limited scope from the way the movie has ended in the third, but the flick is still not without its options of coming up with more sequels and scoring nice at the box-office. Thus remains the power of what was created by the three movies of the series so far.

What is it about? :: The team of four still needs to get to New York City, as they decide to go to Monte Carlo to get the help of penguins and the chimps. But as they are noticed and it creates chaos in the land, Captain Chantel DuBois is called to deal with the situation as she begins a never ending chase of the animals with her minions, hoping to keep the lion’s head on her wall in the process. They find shelter in a cricus train, as they disguise themself as American circus animals, much to the delight of Stefano the sea lion and Gia the jaguar who takes them in, despite the suspicions of Vitaly the tiger. It is later found out that the circus indeed a failure, even as they are trying to get a contract to perform in the United States of America. The penguins help by buying the circus and getting rid of the humans, while Alex tries to get the circus back working with new ideas and the help of his friends. The friends find it the best option to get back to New York, and they tries their best to make the show better, even getting a depressed Vitaly back in action in the process, and at the same time, Alex and Gia gets closer to each other. So what comes next?

The defence of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted :: This movie is a fun ride, and not many people can disagree to the same. It portrays a wonderful brotherhood of animals which puts the divided humans into shame, and the evil side comes from humans who mercilessly hunt the poor creatures for sport. There lies a twin message against hunting for sport as well as in support of universal brotherhood. As long as people are lead by their narrow-minded selfishness which calls for money only, there will be no brotherhood – but that is not the case of the animal kingdom of Madagascar. It shows a group of talking animals who are divided by species, but still stands together, may be because they don’t have politicians to bring a wall between them or reservations which make sure that they won’t have food or water from a specific area. I would consider this movie a battle against hunting for fun, inequality and filthy reservations while supporting brotherhood and freedom, about which there might be a lot to say, but much less can be directly implied. Just think about us humans having to learn from animals during this age.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has great 3D effects and it feels great to see it on the big screen. Its use of colours and style is beyond the limits of the usual 3D movie. It is still good to watch the final scenes of it on an LED screen with all the lights switched off. There is the great animation and the wonderful details of the cities which our heroes visit. It makes us feel for the animals and keeps us on their side, in a much better way than what Avatar creates in us for the weird blue aliens. Madagascar 3 undoubtedly knows where its going, and how to keep the things straight on the way. Yes, it chooses a dream-like world instead of realism, as its characters chooses to fall and get up rather than not to fall, dance instead of walk, and learn to understand rather than directly understand. It is still a world where greatness can be achieved by trying and being good, rather than using the world’s method of “lie, cheat, steal” which has been going on with most of the so called respectable people who are holding big positions, and undoubtedly making a lot of money. Madagascar gives a hope that one day people will be judged for being good rather than belonging to a community or being more or less social.

The Fantastic Four :: We have four animal heroes in the series, with a lion, a zebra, a giraffe and a hippopotamus on an adventure of the life-time. They lived a life of incredible joy in a zoo in New York until they end up outside, travelling to Madagascar, an incident which changes their lives forever, as they discovers themselves, and what they are meant to be. From Madagascar, they go African continent where they find more of themselves, and then also goes through Europe which forms the major part of this third movie. Talking about fantastic four or fabulous four always have the tendency to bring four cricketers who all retired in the last few years, but as we are talking about an adventure bigger than any money-making sport which goes on to become more corrupt to the core every year, we realize that the animals always had more to teach us compared to any materialistic celebrity of this age who are worshiped for absolutely no reason. Yes, these animals are worth being fans of, and they don’t even come up with nonsense, and they are inspirational and more humane than any of the people who are considered as role-models by the new generation.

Soul exploration :: From Trapeze Americano to Balloons for Children, the animals show that tremendous power of equality, liberty and fraternity which was lost from the French Revolution, or rather was never there. “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” has gone to the animals for sure, as we haven’t gone past the narrow boundaries of religion and caste yet, and so proved by caste and religion based politics and the reservations which shall continue to divide people in a more efficient manner for vote-bank politics. The world has been divided by imagined communities, and within nations, people remain divided, but not these animals. We can see that they don’t belong to the same species, and most of them are actually supposed to kill and eat each other. May be we don’t deserve to be united, and we should support all the barriers that Rabindranath Tagore mentioned as narrow domestic walls. Madagascar 3 might have talking animals with no logic, but somehow they make more sense than humans do, and it is evident from the way the humans behave in the movie itself.

How it finishes :: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is longer than Ice Age 4: Continental Drift by just five minutes, and there is not much to separate the two despite the fact that this is indeed better and more critically appreciated. Ice Age scored in the total box-office collection better though, and it was expected that it would go on to become the highest grossing movie of 2012 as it did, and considering the hype surrounding both movie here, I would have been surprised if Madagascar 3 had actually made anything close enough to Ice Age 4. But I am glad that it did come close, and being released before its rival might have helped it to come close enough. In an year in which even The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 comes in the top ten, being there is more of a disgrace, but when that tells the story of the movie-watchers, being there is also something of luck too. But leaving the statistics behind, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a very good watch, not only for the fans of animated movies, but also for anyone who is looking for a movie which is a visual delight in one way while being something of incredible substance in another way. Thank you HBO for bringing this back on television at the right moment.

Release date: 8th June 2012
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath
Starring (voice): Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Frances McDormand

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.