Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Predator 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Predator 2 – 2 out of 5

Boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched the follow up to Arnold instructing us to get on the choppa that is Predator 2. And you know what? It’s just as bad as I remember it!

After Jesse Ventura proved that while he didn’t have time to bleed, his character did have plenty of time to die, that alien race of hunters with a face that looks like a nightmarish version of a vagina is hitting the big city of LA. A massive heat wave hit the city and every gang and their grandmother is out to lay claim to their territory. The police officers have their hands full and their hands only become fuller when the gang members start getting murdered in a strange way, including some who get skinned. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) who isn’t too old for this type of shit learns that an alien dude with dreadlocks is on a killing spree…a killing spree that includes taking out Gary Busey and his gigantic teeth and Bill Paxton in his pre-tornado chasing day.

Yep, their face is a giant, fucked up vagina.  Teach that in abstinence class and
kids will stop having sex FOREVER!

The first Predator film is amazing! Some amazing comics have been released since then but the films have been lackluster since. After the 2nd film, the Predators got to take on the Xenomorphs from Aliens thanks to demands from nerds and their conflict was captured in some great comics, some mediocre video games and two awful movies that proved to be more unintentionally humorous than epically bad-ass. Before the alien hunter got some form of redemption thanks to the 2010 Predators, they were involved in an awful mess that took place in L.A.

"Um, guys?  I can't see out of my helmet."

The mystery and the suspense elements that compromised the first film is abandoned for more
"More pit sweat" - yelled the director.
gore and more violence. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but there’s was never much of a story that went along with the Predator killing people. Sure the film gives us a host of sweaty people (because there wasn’t enough sticky, sweaty people in the jungles of the first one) trying to figure out why gang members are being slaughtered and there’s a side story of Buddy Holly (or, at least the guy who once played him) on a mission to take the creature out after he learned of its existence after the events of the previous film but everything that fills in-between is a mess. How much of a mess? Well, you do have to put up with Morton Downey Jr. as a journalist.

Three people died on set after Downey snapped them in two with his teeth.

The only real highlight that Predator 2 offers up and the only reason I will every decade or so pop this film in is the final moments of the film where Lieutenant Harrigan ends up in the Predator’s ship, sees a Xenomorph's skull (a prelude to the awful AvP films) and, after handing the Predator’s dreadlocked ass to it, is greeted by several more Predators only to discover that despite their enjoyment of skinning things alive, are capable of honor and allow Harrigan to leave unharmed…well, unharmed in the fact that they didn’t provide addition harm to the harm the first Predator put on him.

Blue light isn't good on Busey...in fact, even darkness is too much light for him.

"I'm too sweaty for this shit."
Predator 2 isn’t a very good film. It’s story doesn’t offer much and Danny Glover, despite all his efforts, can’t save this movie as the great hero that is Lt. Harrigan. Bill Paxton seems to only be in the film to complete some sort of trifecta of being beat up by a Terminator, killed by Aliens and now getting sliced and diced by a Predator and finally, a majority of the acting involved in this film is just plain bad. How bad? Try not to laugh when Ruben Blades’ provides about as much feeling as a plastic children’s toy when he utters, “No, please don’t” when he’s getting dragged off to die. 

I thought I said blue light was awful on Busey--oh wait...that's a Predator.

Sure this movie can and does suck. Sure it is, at times, eliciting a chuckle out of me rather than something like, “Hey, that’s awesome!” and sure it doesn’t even belong in the same genre, same league or even same shelf space as the first film…but the last ten minutes is really good. So, at least it has that.

Yes, I watch the entire movie for this shot...and I am fully aware that you can skip
chapters on DVDs.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Caller

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Caller – 3 out of 5

What do most supernatural thrillers lack? Phones, duh!

Imagine how much better The Exorcist would have been with a possessed phone!

The Caller is a film that sees a newly divorced woman named Mary (Rachelle Lafevre) move into a small apartment and find an old rotary telephone that she finds herself adoring and sets up in her kitchen. One day she gets a mysterious phone call from an old woman named Rose (Lorna Raver). As time goes by, the calls from Rose become more frequent and more terrifying. Mary starts to feel haunted by Rose as she’s simultaneously trying to put distance between herself and her violent ex-husband (Ed Quinn), form a friendship with the apartment complex’s maintenance man (Luis Guzman) and form a relationship with a college professor (Stephen Moyer). However, Mary soon discovers that Rose is calling from the past and is threatening to have an impact on her future…

"Do you think this building needs more lighting fixtures?"

"I'm sorry, who's speaking?  I can't see you."

 When I first sat down to watch this, I expected a generic horror film that involved a ghost making contact through a phone however, I was pleasantly surprised when the film was actually about a lonely, psychotic old woman from the past reaching out to the future and reacting violently when she didn’t get her way. It was this unique aspect of the story that sucked me in. 

"Listen, I don't want to brag but I'm in True Blood...and that's better than the vampire
story you're in."

"Seven days?  I'm not sure what you're talking about."
The only real downside the film has is the lackluster performance of Rachelle Lafevre as Mary. While she isn’t outright terrible in the role, she doesn’t really bring much to the table to make her stand out. Add to the fact she was co-starring with Bill Compton from True Blood, Stark from Eureka, and a one of the funniest guys I’ve ever seen on a VH1 I Love (Fill in the blank); Luis Guzman.  Working around these guys and the add in the fact that a majority of the suspense is expressed through phone calls and often events are heard on the other end and not see, having a barely adequate lead isn't enough.

You can see Guzman in VH1's I Love Last Week.

The Caller isn’t really scary but the story is interesting. While I found myself asking the question of why doesn’t Mary just change her number because, in this day and age, girls change their number if I just even ask for it…or even look at the girl but I had to remind myself that this is a thriller and a movie—a complete work of fiction and fictional people don’t operate on the same level as real people. So, once that thought left my head, I easily gave in to the story and was pleasantly surprised with a movie, I’m not afraid to admit, I walked in expecting to be horrible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins – 3 out of 5

Okay, I wasn’t as big of a fan of Tremors 3: Back to Perfection as I was with the first two.  I didn’t hate the film; it just wasn’t as good as the other installments.  However, it was still fun to watch.  So, can the fourth and final installment (like the 3rd, I never previous saw before I reviewed it for the blog) be a great addition to the series or be an utter failure?

Is that prospector guy checking out Michael Gross' ass?

Like Back to Perfection, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a Direct-to-DVD release that came out in 2004 and is a prequel to the entire franchise, taking place in 1889 on the land that would eventually become Perfection, Nevada—then called Rejection Valley (Better name for a town than Intercourse, Pennsylvania or Mianus, Connecticut).  The town is small and completely dependent on the silver mine it has but when an accident hatches the Graboid eggs buried there, they soon find their town on the verge of drying up…and all those there dying.  The owner of the mine, Burt Gummer’s Great Grandfather; Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross), arrives to figure out the problem at the mine and get it back into operation.  Unprepared for the trouble that is the Graboids and being the complete opposite of his future grandson (basically, he’s a man of privilege and is incapable of firing a gun), he hires a gunslinger to help with the issue by the name of Black Hand Kelly (Billy Drago) but Hiram will soon learn that he needs to take responsibility and take on the Graboids himself…

Hanging on for dear life to a telephone pole while a giant underground worm is working
its way to eat me...funny, a psychic once told me that's how I'm going to die.

I have to say it…this one was better than the last one and a great addition to the series.  Making the film a prequel in the Old West and seeing the Graboids in this era of American history already puts many points in the film’s favor.  Also, like the previous films, the movie has a great story going for it, great characters filling up the town of Rejection Valley and, while not as funny as the previous films, it’s still fun to watch.  Finally, the film cleans up one of my biggest complaints of the last film: the use of piss poor computer effects.

"My mustache is sensing trouble..."

One of the things that aggravated me the most about Tremors 3 was it veering away from practical effects and utilizing more computer generated effects.  The problem being is that the film was clearly on a low budget and the effects looked awful.  Plus, it’s hard to replace the near nostalgic feel that comes with seeing the Graboids as puppets and rudimentary animatronics.  And did I mention that the computer generated Graboids in the last one look like giant penises?  Because they did…I’m sure Freud would have something to say about that.

This film also covers the amazing singing voices of the Graboids!

The Legend Begins, because it doesn’t deal with the more evolved portions of the Graboid (the second stage being the Shriekers and the final stage being the fart propelled flyers called Ass-Blasters) and deals solely with the ground dwelling worm variety, the film--smartly--returns to practical effects to sell the monsters and relies on CG effects very seldom.  Seeing the Graboids as physical beings in the scene (with far greater mobility than they’ve had in previous films) helps the film feel a part of the series and less of a low budget Direct-to-DVD release you’ll see in your local Wal-mart’s bargain bin.  Even the times that CG was required, those effects were much more refined than what was seen in the previous film and even the few CG scenes used in Tremors 2.

The look of a man who just caught a glimpse of a giant penis while taking a leak.

Something else I really enjoyed was getting to see a newly hatched Graboid.  If you’ve followed the series, you know we got to see them as giant worms in the first film, then they moved on to their next stage in their life cycle as two legs land walkers called Shriekers in the second before becoming flying beasts in the third film already pregnant with an egg for the whole thing to start all over again. The problem is we never got to see a baby Graboid but this one provided it for us.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a fan of the series but seeing the widdle guys right out of the eggs and eager to bury in the ground and start feeding on anything that moves was pretty cool.  The reason for my single status is never lost on me.

Awwww, look at the little killing machine!

Overall, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a fantastic addition to the film series.  The movie doesn’t over-do the whole prequel thing by offering up origin stories for every character that’s been in the series but focusing only on the Gummer family was a nice touch.  The movie also offers up a reminiscent feel for the first film as the situations in the story are similar and, in this process, offers up nice nods and winks to the one that started it all…including a store in Rejection Valley being called “Chang’s.”  While I didn’t find the film to be as laugh out loud funny as other films in the series, I did really enjoy it and found it to be an improvement on the last movie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1 – 5 out of 5

"Hey...I'm Batman."
In 1986, comic god Frank Miller changed the world of the Caped Crusader forever with four issues later titled The Dark Knight Returns.  The story showed a 55 year old Bruce Wayne trying to settle into a retirement as the crime fighter while Gotham becomes a wasteland of corruption and criminal activities.  Because Bruce Wayne IS Batman and can't fight what he is, he eventually gives in and puts on the cape and cowl to stop a dangerous gang called The Mutants, a believed to be reformed Harvey Dent and the return of the Joker.

The Dark Knight Returns was a dark tale in an already dark comic book (people always seem to forget that Batman was a dark comic book and the Adam West show was a satire of the dark storylines).   When I first read the issues as a young boy, I was blown away with the more mature storyline.  Even now, the story still has an impact on me. In the last year, I re-read the book (Why? Because it has Batman in it, duh!) and I’m still knocked over by Miller’s amazing art and seeing the Dark Knight placed within a story where he’s not in his prime but rather an older gentleman dealing with the problems that come with fighting crime for a living.

Whoa...Bats almost got struck by lightning...The Flash wouldn't like that.

Needless to say, I was a little excited to hear that DC was going to animate this epic story.  My excitement came not only from the fact that they were adapting it to a film but because DC kicks major ass in the animated movie department.

A face even a mother can't love.

Without even seeing the film, I purchased it on glorious Blu-Ray because I was that confident that the end product delivered to me from DC would be worth the money…and it was!

Gordon's mustache only got better with age.

The film follows the comic book very closely and the fanboy in me finds that very pleasing.   However, not only is the film almost panel-for-panel from the comic book but the animation and character designs look nearly exactly the same as Frank Miller’s artwork.  If you’re familiar with Miller’s work, you know his art style is very unique and also very stylized. Animating the film in Miller’s style would have been awesome to see but probably would have alienated viewers unfamiliar with the comic and those who don’t really care about art. However, the animators took Miller’s style, took some of the drama and flair out of it and cleaned it up--all the while keeping the soul intact. In essence, they succeeded in creating a look that transfers well to film but also keeps the integrity of the books.

Whoa, Girl Robin...close those legs, Gotham is looking.

Okay, so the movie already has a stellar story going into it and the animation and action are like a hot chick that loves video games and is, for some reason, into ugly dudes (aka the animation and action are like an impossible thing) but where would a great animated movie be without equally amazing voice acting?  It’d probably look like Michael Bay made it. 

"Batman checking in here to remind you that I'm Batman."

Kevin Conroy, thanks to his work on Batman: The Animated Series, set the bar extremely high and made his voice the iconic standard for the Bats.  In the past, attempts at being the next Batman have proved to be failures to me as they don’t come anywhere NEAR Conroy’s performances.  So, when I heard that Robocop himself was going to provide the voice of the older Bruce Wayne, I was cautiously optimistic. Peter Weller ended up being the perfect choice for the Caped Crusader for the film.  While Conroy IS Batman, Weller proved that he was the best choice for the older Bruce Wayne/Batman and he even captured the jaded, cynical sarcasm that overcame the Bats in the comic pages and transferred them nicely to the animated film.

Straight out of the pages of the comic!  Love it!

Last shot...the Joker awakens.
The only real downside to The Dark Knight Returns is the fact that the movie was split into two pieces in order to get the most bang for their buck (don’t think for a second that DC did it so the viewers wouldn’t have to sit through a two and a half hour, maybe three hour, Batman movie.  They did it for the almighty dollar but I’m okay with that.  TAKE MY MONEY, DC!!!). I now have to wait until early next year to see the epic conclusion that results in the President ordering Superman to stop Batman and the Bats taking on a returning Joker.  But at least there’s the trailer to watch and keep my hopes up high…and keep me salivating and waiting like an impatient kid the night before Christmas.

Ooooooo, I can’t wait.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Deer Crossing

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Deer Crossing – 1 out of 5

Since I started this blog, I’ve been receiving requests for movie reviews left and right (possible up and down, as well) and, because this blog is both my duty and my curse, I take every single request--because I’m that great of a guy.  Well, this weekend my buddy recommended a Direct-to-DVD B-movie horror film that came out this year called Deer Crossing.  Since, like I said, I take all requests, I bumped this one to the top of my list because it’s October and I’ve been watching a lot of horror films to gear up for Halloween.

The look of a man who just put something in your drink.

Deer Crossing is about a demonic deer crossing sign that is out to kill those responsible for running it down with a car--kidding. Actually, the title of film has nothing to do with the actually story--it’s just an element of the plot that is used for the film’s title in order to try and give this movie some creativity cred like more popular (and better made) movies.  The story is about a woman who leaves with her son to spend some time with her mother-in-law while her husband is busy doing some doctor stuff (because he’s going to be a doctor hence doing the doctor stuff).  On their way, they get into an accident thanks to some deer crossing (eh?) the road.  Assumed dead, 8 years go by and the good doctor receives a mysterious phone call from someone claiming to be his son so he hires a retired detective to see if his wife and son are still alive after all this time.

Why is that doctor attacking the zombie?

Deer Crossing is a hard movie to watch and the story is even harder to comprehend.  No, not because it’s complicated in anyway but because the editing is atrocious!  It’s hard to follow what’s going on when the movie looks like the film stock was massacred by an enraged ape with a dull hatchet.

This is about the most emotion you get from the detective character.

Somewhere, a community college drama department is
missing their set builder.
And I believe it goes without saying that the acting is just absolutely terrible.  With its title, the fact it’s Direct-to-DVD and the film’s story is enough to tell you that it will feature a host of unknowns who will all overact (or underact) the shit out of their craft in the false belief that this will be their big break…and you get that! In fact, it’s one of the best parts of the movie.  There’s a particular scene I really enjoyed where a drug dealer is shaking down a guy who owes him money and the guy getting the shake down isn’t even looking him in the eye but rather someone on the crew just over the actor’s shoulder, possibly a good looking key grip.  In fact, the acting is so bad, it actually has an impact on the film's story as the movie's only real twist and reveal loses all dramatic effect thanks to the dead fish style acting the players take to this movie.  Did they get paid in cheese sandwiches to get this deadpan performance?

Oh gawd!  That's the missing kid?  Kill it with fire!

Interestingly though, this movie somehow wrangled Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) and Doug Bradley (Pinhead) into this movie.  Far more interestingly is the fact that Bradley is actually trying in this movie and Hudson looks more like he just wandered on set and said, “I’m here, let’s do this in one take so I can go to the bank and cash my royalty checks I still get from Ghostbusters.”  And when you look at the overall quality of the film, it’s clear that a majority of the film’s budget went towards getting these two in the movie.

"Boy, I can't wait for Ghostbusters 3 to start filming...I need the work."

Deer Crossing is a terrible film.  The acting is awful, the editing is a mess and the story is far, far, far from being scary, interesting or thrilling.  However, like all bad movies, it’s in these complaints that makes the film fun to watch.  This is another one of those movies you pop in when some friends are around, crack open some cold refreshments, rip open bags of salted snacks and being riffing on the film and laughing the night away…and this movie has a lot of ripe material to poke fun at. Hell, you don’t even need friends because you can entertain yourself. That’s what I did! Dammit…I just made myself look pathetic by saying I was making fun of a movie by myself.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tremors 3: Back to Perfection

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Tremors 3: Back to Perfection – 3 out of 5

Unlike the other two Tremors films, I haven’t seen this 2001 Direct-to-Video sequel until recently.  For some reason, when the franchise hit number 3, I said to myself, “Another sequel…that’s dumb” and never bothered seeing it despite how much I enjoy the last two.   However, to my surprise, the movie, while not as good as the others, is shockingly decent and fun to watch.

Giving you what the series lacked...crotch shots of Michael Gross.

Tremors 3 sees a Bacon-less and a Ward-less story and let’s Michael Gross’ character take the reins as Burt finds himself a Graboid hunting machine.  The movie opens with Burt after returning home to Perfection, Nevada from Argentina on a successful Shrieker hunt.  Perfection is now riding the high and suckling on the teat of the Graboid as a tourist destination--even though the species is all but extinct.  Burt discovers that a man named Desert Jack (Shawn Christian) has started a tourist trap that is the Graboid equivalent of the river safari ride at Disney World.  However, Burt quickly learns that the Graboids are NOT dead and that the ground still seems to be shaking with their hunger.  However, as he tries to eliminate the menaces, the Government steps in and stops them because…the Graboids are a protected species!!!  Well, the Government soon learns the nature of Graboids as they evolve to their Shrieker stage and, horrifyingly discover, that the Skriekers aren’t the final stage of the Graboids as they evolve one last time and take to the skies!

"Where's the elephant that sprays the water at you?"

Being the film was a Direct-to-Video release and the fact that this is the third in the franchise, I was extremely skeptical of the movie.  The third film in a horror franchise (or a comedy/horror franchise or any franchise even) is the awkward movie that requires some major changes or the series will quickly grow stale.  However, Back to Perfection doesn’t change much to the formula and, it is in that lack of change that keeps the movie entertaining without getting stale or tired.  It’s even cool to see many of the actors from the first film return to the city of Perfection (sadly, not Kevin Bacon or Fred Ward).

Poor Ariana Richards...first it was the Graboids, then dinosaurs and now Graboids
again.  This girl can't catch a break.

Unfortunately, this film does have some large detractors working against it.  Most notably are some really poor computer generated effects.  The last film saw a few CG scenes in order to get the Shriekers to move but there was some money behind it and the end result was not bad.  However, the CG work on this film is barely passable.  The new form the Graboids takes (affectionately called Ass-Blasters--I’ll get to that in a minute) sees these beasts take to the air (why not? They were underground, then above ground and now they're even further above ground now) and it’s hard to show those scenes with puppets and animatronics alone so computers were called in.  However, due to a low budget, the end results were not very good but even worse, a single worm Graboid is depicted as a CG figure and it ends up looking more like a giant penis than a monster (but maybe that says something about me that I saw a dick and not a Graboid).

I'm telling you, that is a cock--NOT a Graboid.

There’s also some lackluster storytelling go on in this one, like the script wasn’t complete or key scenes were edited out to shorten the running length.  This comes in the form of a “white whale” Graboid that comes into the film as Burt’s arch-nemesis.  The worm ends up antagonizing Burt after he is informed that he can’t hunt the monsters and, periodically, the Graboid will be mentioned to be in the distance.  On the surface, these element of the film’s story seems like it would be a big plot point (especially sine it plays a part in the film’s ending) but it feels thrown in here and there throughout the movie like the director forgot about this plot point and had to put it in there so viewers could, before the credits, go, “ohhh, I see.”

Desert Jack looks like any generic bass player to any generic pop rock band.

Finally, the Graboids themselves offer a unique dichotomy for me.  The film explains the life cycle of the creatures and how they go from an egg to a worm before ripping open to become Shriekers and then sprout wings to become Ass-Blasters (I’m getting to that) before laying an egg and having the process start all over again. I found that interesting…however, the whole Ass-Blasters thing…

Now we know why his last name is Gross!  Eh?  Eh?  I'll hang myself for that
bad caption.

They’re called Ass-Blasters because they gain flight by…farting.  While the explanation how these explosive flatulents help them attain flight is actually well thought out and interesting, the fact that they fly from farting seems too bottom of the barrel for the Tremors franchise.  I can’t help but wonder if the filmmakers bought that idea from Carolos Mencia or whatever other Nickelback of comedians out there who crave the easy joke rather than well thought out material.

Sure they take flight by farting but how do they sustain flight with those
little wings?

There are many complaints to Tremors 3 but it’s really not entirely horrible. At its core, the spirit of the series is still there. The story, while not as good as the previous two, is still pretty solid, seeing characters from the first film is cool and it’s still pretty fun to watch even though you have to deal with bad CG and fart gags.  But all the fart jokes (and there’s actually not many) are quickly washed away when something truly awesome and hilarious befalls Burt.  For the sake of saving you spoilers, I won’t tell you but it’s pretty awesome!  And that is also my way to get you to see the movie and get a kick-back from the studio.  First I need to inform the studio I would like a kick-back and then I should get said kick-back! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – 4 out of 5

In the first one, they were accidentally shipped to Madagascar.  In the second, they ended up in Africa and now it seems the lion, the zebra, the giraffe and the hippo (and the penguins) are on the verge of finally returning to New York and getting home.

Who doesn't love penguins?  People who hate awesome things, that's who.

If only all circuses were like this...
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted sees Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pnkett Smith) head to Monaco to catch up with the penguins who abandoned them in Africa.  However, after an incident in a casino, the crew sees themselves hunted by Europe’s most deadly animal control officer; Captain Chantel DuBois (voiced by Frances McDormand), who wants Alex’s head on her wall. In an effort to get away, the crew find themselves in a failing circus and their only hope of returning home is getting the circus up and running in order to impress an American talent scout so they can tour the States.

This man is the American talent scout...and I'm pretty sure George C. Scott was the
inspiration for the character design.

I've been there...
I really enjoy the other two Madagascar films.  Their humor is witty and not just characters falling down to make children laugh.  Along with some great animation, the movies were something the whole family could sit down and enjoy and not just something you put on to shut your kid up for an hour and a half so you and your spouse could cry in one room and drink in the other or try to work in a quickie in the bedroom (I don’t know the state of your marriage but I’m sure one or the other applies…maybe both, if you’re freaky).  And when I saw this in the trailer, I knew I had to see it.

Error 404:  Witty caption not found.
Once the film started, I found myself criticizing the animation style as it looked like it hadn’t improved since the first one came out in 2005.  Take, for example, the Toy Story series…when you compare the first one to the third one, the animation looks beyond infinity (eh, like that?).  However, I had to shut my mouth very rapidly because once the film got rolling, you see the animation is absolutely incredible while keeping the characters’ looks true to the first film…much like Pixar did with Toy Story 3.

Even though I watched this in missionary position 2-D, the movie looks like
the 3-D could have been good.

I get that excited when I see a Taco Bell.
Like the previous film, Madagascar 3 is funny—laugh out loud funny.  Literally laughing out loud, not the “LOL” things people text you when they have nothing else to say. Also, like the previous films, the voice acting is top shelf stuff!  The usual crew is here like Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien, Cedric the Entertainer as Maurice and Andy Richter as Mort but, because this is a sequel and you need new faces (or voices, in this case), new characters are added.  Martin Short voices a simple-minded sea lion for the circus whose hopeful nature is mirrored only by his own naivety, Jessica Chastain voices a young and hungry cheetah that becomes a love interest for Alex and Bryan Cranston stars as a vicious tiger with a horrible past.  Cranston deserves special praise because the character he plays (Vitaly the tiger) is Russian and the accent was so convincing, I never realized it was Heisenberg himself doing the voice.

Vitaly just found out he has cancer and is going to cook meth to pay for the treatments.

Maybe it's my crippling loneliness but, dammit, I found her HOT!!!
Sure, in the end, I’m going to be singing the “Circus Afro” song for a week now but Madagascar 3 is good enough where having that earworm in your head isn’t a bad thing.  The animation is killer, the story is a strong addition to the franchise, the film has a great villain in the form of DuBois (who, I strangely found attractive) and it is just plain viciously funny!  Madagascar 3 is so good, it can easily be argued that it was the best film in the franchise.