Earlier this month, I went on a mission that I had been planning since 2011—seeing Penguins of Madagascar
on the big screen.
spin-off is a fast-paced, fun adventure, with touching moments and several flipperfuls of good laughs. I have written some of my thoughts on it below. They will be appreciated zaidi kwa fellow Fanguins than those completely unfamiliar with the characters, so this makala is zaidi a orodha of observations and opinions than a true movie review. Still, I will not spoil too much for those who have not yet seen the film. Opening
● The movie opens years zamani in Antarctica, where Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), and Rico (Conrad Vernon) are babies and Private (Christopher Knights) is still dakika away from making his entrance in the world. The three are true to their adult personalities (and even have their adult voices) even though they are in smaller bodies, and they are generally precocious tots (knowing words like tundra
and amniotic sac
; discussing a plan that involves, among other things, training jellyfish to obey voice commands), which makes it a bit surprising that they are only just discovering their flightlessness. Private makes four when the others rescue his egg and he hatches, forever touching our hearts with a wave of his flipper and the line, "Hello! Are wewe my family?" His hatching in this movie may be the happiest, most adorable moment in the entire Madagascar
● Other penguins of the Madagascar
franchise's invented species are briefly shown waddling and behaving cutely, which is nice to see. But the adults' "bom-boms" seem just a little too chubby compared to the tail feather regions of the grown-up foursome. Very early on, baby Skipper asks the adults if anyone even knows where all the penguins are marching to, and their responses—"Who cares?" "I swali nothing," "Me too," "Me too"—make me think that their colony must be full of Manfredis and Johnsons, the ill-fated birds from the penguins' Nickelodeon TV show, The Penguins of Madagascar
● kwa being set in Antarctica, the opening establishes that the penguins are originally from that frozen continent (as opposed to having hatched at a zoo), which is interesting because when the penguins arrive there in the original Madagascar
film, their feelings about their natural environment are summed up kwa Private when he says, "Well, this sucks." I suppose Private may have been too young to remember it much, but one has to wonder how Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico forgot what the place was like when they chose to return to it.
● Though the opening is great and is a major highlight of the film, it is much too short. It has a little zaidi material than what had already been released in an October link
, but I was expecting a few dakika more. Heck, I thought after watching the clip that the baby penguins should have their own movie, and I still think they should. Everything else
● The rest of the film's focus is on the penguins' efforts to stop the plans of an evil octopus named Dave (John Malkovich), who seeks to turn the world's penguins into mutants as revenge for their taking all the visitors' attention away from him at zoos across the globe, and the penguins' interactions with the North Wind—Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), a harp seal; Corporal (Peter Stormare), a polar bear; Eva (Annet Mahendru), a snowy owl; and leader "Classified" (Benedict Cumberbatch), a gray wolf—an elite, gadgeted animal task force on the hunt for Dave. It is a wacky plot for sure, in many ways like a longer version of one of the zaidi sci-fi-heavy episodes of the TV show. But wackiness is fine, and it entertains. The film also has the subplot of Private's trying to find his place in the team, which becomes quite important late in the film (I won't spoil how).
● Knights, the voice of Private, tweeted that the movie is a "fast paced comedy for the whole family." I agree with him. While there were probably no zaidi than ten people in the theater at the time I watched, among my fellow moviegoers were a parent with, I believe, three young children, and two seasoned citizens with walkers. Even if some children are too young to follow the whole plot and some adults too long in the tooth to get an "Elijah, would wewe please take them away!" joke, few of any age will be able to resist smiling just watching the penguins do their thing.
● But the movie is probably a little too fast paced, packing a lot of material into ninety-two minutes. That kind of cramming may work with Rico's gut, but hardcore mashabiki of the penguins will leave the theater wishing that the movie had included zaidi character development and that it could have been longer. (We would have liked to see things like how Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico met [or whether they are brothers kwa blood]; how the baby penguins got to the Central Park Zoo; and how the North Wind formed.) Personally, I upendo the penguins, and I could have watched them for three hours and enjoyed myself. Good things are made great just because these characters are in them. But I recognize that casual fans, especially those who never watched the TV show, as well as parents whose children have homework and bedtimes, may have suffered a penguin, auk overdose sitting through such an epic-length adventure, to say nothing of the cost and labor.
● Visually, the penguins look good, looking better to me than they do in any of their other non-TV appearances. Rico's feathery Mohawk, as seen in the TV onyesha and The Madagascar Penguins in a krisimasi Caper
, is back. The characters new to this movie look good as well, though one has to wonder what skinny-waisted Classified eats (certainly not Cheezy Dibbles, this movie's brand of Cheez Doodles and the penguins' inayopendelewa snack). Dave, though real octopuses (not octopi
) don't have teeth, has a creative, fun, original design. His cephalopod henchmen are not designed the same way, appearing to me like they are trying to hide something and reminding me of turbans and burqas.
● Like some episodes of the TV show, I think I will enjoy this movie zaidi the sekunde time I watch it, when I already know the jokes and can better appreciate the details and the full plot. Sometimes the newness of something, especially something that is long awaited and that one has certain preconceived thoughts about and expectations for, can be distracting. (I may also have been a little bit affected kwa the 3-D experience as well as drained kwa too many months of editing Penguins of Madagascar
shabiki fiction.) But I will wait for the DVD before watching it again—I want to be able to pause and rewind.
● While the TV onyesha and the Madagascar
sinema are, to the disappointment of mashabiki like me, officially set in separate universes, this movie still has a good amount of the TV show's humor and flavor. Much of this is in the material featured in clips and previews. I do wish I hadn't seen as many of them in the months leading up to the movie's release so zaidi of the movie's material would have been new to me. But I enjoyed watching the clips and previews at the time I watched them. And when I rewatched them. And when I still rewatch them.
● For my rating, I give this movie zero stars, and my thumbs remain on my keyboard, pointed neither up nor down. Instead, I give it four out of five Dibbles
. It may not be, if I may borrow a line from Skipper, the absolute "top shelf in the bureau" in every way, but it is far from the bottom, dusty, forgotten shelf that many negative reviews from negative critics make it out to be. DreamWorks did not make this Madagascar
spin-off to become the inayofuata Wizard of Oz
au Citizen Kane
au Schindler's List
, nor was it made with a realistic expectation of winning a wheelbarrow full of the most prestigious Hollywood awards—and it won't. It was created mainly to appeal to those who already upendo the penguin, auk characters, to those who already appreciate the humor of these cute and cuddly birds.
It was made for us. Thank you, DreamWorks.