Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Penguins of Madagascar (2014)





















A fourth sequel in the Madagascar franchise technically but as you can see its a spin-off about those quirky penguins. I guess this was a logical move because lets be honest the main characters in that franchise were a bit annoying and had been milked pretty good. Using these little guys for an all out comedic adventure makes sense yet at the same time it does feel like a desperate move to me. Oddly enough this movie is apparently unrelated to the kids TV series of the same name, and that series was also unrelated to the movie franchise also, kinda makes me ask why and how!

There aren't too many directions this kids movie could of taken in all honesty. The main four characters are a sneaky highly organised team of espionage types...in a cute n funny way...so naturally this means another Bond-esque espionage type adventure (ugh!). Yes that's right, we haven't quite had enough of that genre so hey lets do it some more with penguins, hey how unoriginal could it possibly be??

So there's this octopus right, and he's been the centre of attention in his home zoo for a long time, that is until the penguins turn up and steal his thunder. All of a sudden everybody loves the penguins and Dave the octopus (yes that's right Dave) is kicked to the curb. He is sent off to other zoos where the same thing happens over and over. Eventually Dave gets fed up with this and decides he wants revenge on all penguin kind (in the zoos), so he disguises himself as a human (yes that's right) and sets to work on a secret formula that turns all penguins into green mutant zombie penguins. Only the main four hero penguins can stop him...with a little help from another highly organised team of animal espionage operatives that include a grey wolf, a snowy owl, a polar bear and a harp seal.

Yeah OK this is a kids movie and its complete fluff sure, but this plot is so utterly inane its...um laughable. Since when would an octopus be a zoos main attraction, and you're telling me all these zoos didn't have penguins for such long periods, one of the most common animals in a zoo along with elephants. The octopus is called Dave...Dave!! he disguises himself as a human and has an army of little octopi henchmen...really. What exactly is the point of his plan? to make all penguins ugly mutants and...? then maybe he'll be the centre of attention again...until another creature comes along and steals his thunder.  Did there really need to be another group of animal spies? Because now you have the highly generic cliched idea of the penguins being the inefficient clumsy team that get by on pure luck alongside the really slick cool team that are a very professional no nonsense operation with real skills. Its a standard 101 comedy plot concept people! couldn't you stretch any further than that?!

Yes I know I'm being all kinds of a bad sport by ripping into this children's movie but it just bugs me. They churn out these cookie cutter animation flicks with little care or concern to actual quality, they literately seem to think that using an A-list cast of stars for the voices will somehow make things all better. Yes eggs Benedict Cumberland pie is in this because its the trendy thing to do right now, cast him in everything, who cares. What's that you say...John Malkovich is voicing the octopus villain Dave...well gee that makes all the difference doesn't it.

Everything about this movie is utterly bog standard with little to no imagination involved whatsoever. Yet another espionage parody with the same damn characters over and over, the same adventure, the same gadgets, the same thrills and spills, yet another hip hop music track over the end credits (facepalm!), the same everything!!! Its like they just thought to use the slightly more popular characters from the Madagascar franchise and try to milk them dry with their own franchise that's actually pretty much the same shit as the Madagascar films...oh wait, that's exactly what they've done. I admit the only thing that is remotely enjoyable here are the four penguins and their slapstick tomfoolery, albeit only two of them are actually any good. Tom McGrath as the leader Skipper is easily the best thing here with his Zapp Brannigan-like voice whilst the brains of team Kowalski comes in second.

Its all about on par with the other Madagascar movies and its annoying menagerie of characters, and just as daft. I have moaned about silly things yes and I know the movie is completely off the wall and isn't suppose to make a lick of sense, but I think that route can really be a mistake at times. I find it much funnier when you take a fantasy concept like this and merge it within grounded reality like 'Toy Story' so there are actual realistic laws to abide by. When its just a free fall of silliness it doesn't always work, some originality helps too of course. The bright colourful visuals will keep kids entertained I'm sure but the frantic lunacy and horribly overused cliched ideas will bore most adults I think, and no Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't make this any better.

4/10