Penguins of Madagascar moves toward an interesting take on the sequel genre, if there is such a thing, by creating a spin-off film, from characters that have already had a spin-off show. Such is the appeal of the Madagascar films (though the straight sequels have had varying levels of success), that both the penguins and King Julien have managed animated series, and there’s something to be said for the idea that if people love the penguin characters we should run with that.
The film bases its plot on the dueling ideas that Private is fed up with having no role in the crew, and that the penguins in general, and then to another level of “in general,” have taken the spotlight off of a certain octopus.
Following the events of the last Madagascar film, our penguin heroes – Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) – find themselves captured by the nefarious octopus, Dave (John Malkovich). Dave being said octopus who was unwittingly upstaged by the penguins, and has since, more or less, had penguins shoved in his face until he decided he had no other recourse but to plot his revenge against the species.
In order to open the door to further spin-offs, the penguins are rescued by The North Wind, an inter-species task force dedicated to helping other animals. The North Wind, led by Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), decide the penguins aren’t capable of helping bring Dave to justice (they obviously haven’t seen the other films), and attempt to ship them off for their own safety. The penguins set off on their own, go after Dave, and hilarity ensues.
It’s worth noting that Tom McGrath, who voices Skipper, directed the Madagascar films, and only voiced Skipper in the first place as a kind of happy accident. It’s slightly odd that he isn’t directing this one, as we give the reins over to trilogy co-director Eric Darnell and relative unknown (and potential completely fake name) Simon J. Smith.
The film’s comedy is obvious, building on the staples that have been set forth with our previous encounters with the penguins, but there is a fair amount of interesting interplay between the penguins and the members of The North Wind crew. From the perspective of the teen and younger audience, the movie is hilarious. It may even suffer slightly in the bigger picture by focusing so much on being funny that it loses sight of developing a truly solid story, but that’s nit-picking here. It means that the film struggles to be noticed among several other animated efforts during the year, because it has no real pull toward a grander storyline, which is what generally gets you those last few ticks on the rating, but who cares, as long as the kids are laughing?
There’s something about a film that is heavy on zany antics, and almost nonsensical machinations, that rules out being taken seriously, but such theories of ratings are a bit silly themselves.
The Digital HD version of the film (available now) is as solid a release as you’ll find. The video leaves nothing to complain about, and that’s rare even today. Animated films possibly have a safer shot where that’s concerned, but the movie looked gorgeous. Moreover, not that it is really a video quality question, the animation style lends itself to crisp details, and beautiful showcase moments. Several scenes of the worldwide adventure stand out.
There are a fair number of bonus features available on the Blu-Ray, or Digital HD version of the film (catch the full list below), but they don’t add up to an overly impressive time total.
There are several bites that are going to be a lot of fun for the kids, including featurettes that cover becoming an elite agent, and some music videos (and a dance number video that invites you to learn to dance like a penguin), but there isn’t that grand push that hopes to really add another level of value to the purchase.
You also get the old standbys, in the form of a deleted scene, theatrical trailer, and an image gallery.
The real bonuses come in the form of a Cheezy Dibbles Ad, which is hilarious, if obviously short, and the Global Flight Plan, which is an odd, and oddly awesome ride along the route the penguins follow during their adventures. The kids are really going to go nuts for this one.
Overall, if you ever got anything out of these characters, you’re going to love this movie, even if it doesn’t really venture into the area anyone is going to describe as a “timeless story.” It’s one to buy, as it is going to get asked for again and again, and the Digital HD version of the release is absolutely solid.
I should mention that the Blu-Ray release will be hitting with the option to get some “Popping Penguins,” and that’s bound to be one that gets asked for as well.
They’re cute…they’re cuddly…they’re back! From the creators of MADAGASCAR comes the hilarious new movie that proves global espionage is for the birds! In DreamWorks’ PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, your favorite super-spies—Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private—join forces with the elite North Wind team to save the world. It’s a side-splitting, globe-trotting adventure the whole family will love! Introduce the Penguin family to your family on March 17 when Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment releases DreamWorks’ PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR on Blu-ray™ and DVD.
And for a limited time, get 2 hopping Penguin toys only with the DreamWorks’ PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Easter DVD and Blu-ray™ pack on March 17 making it the perfect gift for Easter baskets.
Directed by Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith, PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR features the voice talents of John Malkovich (“Crossbones” Red 2), Benedict Cumberbatch ( The Imitation Game), and Ken Jeong (The Hangover), joining Tom McGrath, Chris Miller and Christopher Knights, who are reprising their roles as the Penguins from the beloved Madagascar franchise.
DreamWorks Animation’s PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Blu-ray™ include:
Feature film in high definition
● Top Secret Guide to Becoming an Elite Agent – Contrary to popular belief, there’s much more to becoming an elite agent than having a bunch of cool toys…do you have what it takes?
● “He is Dave” Music Video – You can run, maybe even swim, but you can’t hide from Dave, the octo-armed and dangerous “creep of the deep” from Penguins of Madagascar!
● Flipper Slap Shake Waddle and Roll – Grab your accordion, flap your flippers, do the dance and join the fun. But don’t worry if you don’t get it right…just wing it!
● “Celebrate” Music Video by Pitbull – Get ready to celebrate watching music sensation Pitbull perform in this webbed foot-tapping music video, featuring scenes from the movie!
● Do The Penguin Shake with tWitch – Practice your best penguin moves and join hip-hop dance star tWitch for a fun-filled lesson on how to do the Penguin Shake dance!
● Deleted Scene – Direct from the top secret editing vault (even we don’t know where it is), watch a classified deleted scene you couldn’t see in theaters!
● Madagascar Mash Up – Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private aren’t new to the spy game…here’s a crazy compilation of mission madness from the Madagascar films!
● Global Flight Plan – Set a course for fun and adventure as you trace the Penguins’ path around the world, starting with the flipping frozen tundra of Antarctica!
● Cheezy Dibbles Ad – Do yourself a flavor and don’t miss this hilarious commercial for the world’s best and most cheesiest orange-colored delicacy. Dibble me!
● Theatrical Trailer
● Image Gallery