BLU-RAY REVIEW: Madagascar 3 - Europe's Most Wanted
Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria and an Afro Circus come to hi-def home video...
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Dreamsworks Animation continues to attract children of all ages to the small island nation of Madagascar, where - in 2005 - a foursome of now fan-favorite animated animals found themselves stranded. Now, Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith) find themselves leaving Madagascar for the cities of Europe and eventually a return to New York City in one of the year's most endearing and exciting animated features - Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
When the penguins and monkeys take to the skies in their home-made airplane and leave the foursome in Africa, Alex takes it upon himself to get the four best friends back to New York City via Monte Carlo, across Europe, through London, and then home again. Of course, along the way they run into the overzealous headhunter and animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (voiced by Frances McDormand), who seeks to add Alex's head to her trophy wall. However, thanks to a traveling circus headed by a Siberian tiger with low self-esteem named Vitaly (voiced by Bryan Cranston), a young jaguar ready for anything named Gia (voiced by Jessica Chastain), and a happy-go-lucky sea lion named Stefano (voiced by Martin Short), the seemingly lost and hunted animals find refuge and help. And it's with the help of these new circus friends that Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria as well as King Julian, Mort, the Penguins and Mason and Phil the chimps will return to New York...only to realize their lives may have been better off in the wild.
The story explores a variety of themes, including low self esteem, lying, and even commitment and breaking promises, which should provide teachable moments for young children and a refresher course for those of us who forget sometimes how something as simple as a little white lie can affect those around us. Besides the fact the film features some of Dreamswork's most popular children's characters, Madagascar 3 also features a fun, exciting story that's filled with the previously mentioned new characters, gorgeous animation, and a soundtrack which will have your toe tapping.
The animation is gorgeous and the blu-ray delivers an impressive 1080p image with smooth, sleek movement and bold, beautiful colors. The audio likewise delivers an impressive Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack which features a great use of the sound stage to deliver surrounding effects. Combined, the visuals and audio make for an exciting and fun film that's filled with excitement, adventure, and circus afros!
As for bonus material, the blu-ray includes two unique exclusives: a game called "Get Them to the Train," which allows viewers to shoot film characters from a canon onto their circus train and "The Animators' Corner," which is a picture-in-picture bonus featuring directors Tom McGrath, Eric Darnell, and Conrad Vernon as they show viewers the animation process and the visuals in various stages of this process which is impressive, informational, and well worth watching for those who wonder what goes into making a movie like Madagascar 3. Lastly, the blu-ray includes a pop-up Trivia Track with various facts from the film.
Other special features include the 13+ minute "Big Top Cast," which talks with the voice actors and crew as they discuss the film's creation; a short "Madagascar 3 Roundtable" which shows voice actors Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith chatting about the series; a commentary audio track with the film's directors - Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, and Tom McGrath - as they discuss everything from the film's animation to the film's story. Other special features include a short "Mad Music Mash-Up" which focuses on the film's "Afro Circus" theme song, a numerous of deleted scenes, the 15+ minute "Ringmasters," which is essentially a behind-the-scenes look at how the three directors make movie magic. Lastly, the blu-ray includes a number of previews and a sneak peek of the "How to Train Your Dragon" stage show.
Overall, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is an exciting, entertaining, and downright fun animated feature that'll have kids of all ages to enjoy. Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria are four fun characters that'll make every child smile. And watch for a special edition of the Madagascar 3 home video that includes Marty's Rainbow Wig (above) which is sure to be a hit with fans of the film (especially kids)!
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley