Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Penguins of Madagascar

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm MAD(agascar) about Penguins!  I'm sorry, that was awful...I'll show myself out.

Penguins of Madagascar – 5 out of 5

I really enjoy the Madagascar films and the penguins have always been some of those great side characters who jump in, have some great gags, and then jump out. I never really considered seeing the foursome in their own film but, then again, I never thought they would get their own television show either but that happened. Regardless, I wasn’t overly shocked when it was announced they got their own spin-off film. When I saw the trailer, I was sold but not enough to see it in the theater. Instead, I patiently waited for its arrival on home media and was quite blown away with the final results.

But before the review, here's a visual representation of Climate Change.

I have to be dragged away, kicking and screaming, from the
penguin exhibits at any zoo or aquarium.
After the events of the third film, the penguins; Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Private (Christopher Knights), and Rico (Conrad Vernon—replacing John DiMaggio, he did the voice in the other films), decide to break into Fort Knox because it has a vending machine filled with Cheezy Dibbles (makes sense, have you had Cheezy Dibbles?). However, the penguins found themselves kidnapped by an octopus calling himself Dave (John Malkovich). Dave is upset with the penguins due to an indirect result from them that caused him to be overlooked at the zoo years back. Since then, he made a device that is powered by green goo called the Medusa Serum that will help him in his mad dash for revenge. However, the penguins escape with the goo in hand—or in belly, since Rico swallowed it—and they find themselves confronted with a secret team calling themselves North Wind—made up of their gray wolf leader Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), the harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), intelligence provided by a snowy owl named Eva (Annet Mahendru), and the muscle provided by the polar bear Corporal (Peter Stormare). The penguins learn that North Wind is out to stop Dave but soon understand that his plan is more than just planning revenge on the four penguins…but all of the penguins of the world.

Okay...they're still cute.  In a wicked way.
An army of octopussies...that's the proper name.
I honestly didn’t think I was going to be disappointed with Penguins of Madagascar (not to be confused with the Nickelodeon show—that one has a "The" in the title) but I sure as spit wasn’t ready for how hysterical the film was going to be. The jokes are ridiculously witty and venture beyond just generic slapstick hijinks that are often seen in cartoon adventures and early DreamWorks features. One gag that had me every time it came up was the celebrity name drop that occurred every time Dave instructed one of his octopi legions. He would call them by their first name and instruct them to do something that would coincide with the last name of a celebrity. For example, he instructed Nicolas to CAGE the penguins, Hugh and Jack to MAN a certain station and Kevin to keep BAKIN’ (bacon) a celebratory cake. It was a simple gag but one that worked over and over again. I’m not saying the film lacked quality gags the rest of the time—because it didn’t (another great one was how the penguins never got Dave's name right)—but this reoccurring joke just so happened to be my favorite.

Dave, shown here trying to figure out which joke in the film was his favorite.
Penguins and their love of cheesy snack foods...what a
Another thing that I wasn’t prepared for was how well executed the action was. There are some really big action sequences that take place in the film—like one that involved the penguins dumping the cargo section of a plane and riding the debris to other planes and eventually the ground—and each of these sequences are amazingly put together. They’re fast pace, exciting, and the way the virtual camera is constantly in motion and circling around Skipper and the gang as they do there thing made them really something to take in and easily became the highlight of the film.

I'm not even going to make a joke here because this scene is awesome!

Tony Stark as a wolf, it seems.
Like most of DreamWorks features, the animation in the film is excellent. Even with the advancing technology, the characters still keep the spirit of their original design but, now—just like comparing Toy Story to its third epic feature—they just look a little more detailed and the backgrounds contain rich detail and intricate textures. Several times while watching Penguins of Madagascar, my jaw dropped and I found myself quietly saying "Whoa" when I watched the snow effects in the frozen tundra or the explosion effects during the action sequences with the penguins and the North Wind.

Heroes are legally required to land that way and then pose with the rest of the team.
The longer you stare at Private in this pic the funnier his
face gets.
The voice acting in this one is also top notch. Aside from John DiMaggio not returning as Rico, the grouping of McGrath, Miller, Knights and Vernon keep the standard of the penguins we’ve seen in the past. While funny all by themselves, they are complimented to hysterical overdrive proportions thanks to the actors on the North Wind and John Malkovich. Malkovich, in particular, is really giving off a great performance that is absolutely hysterical and ridiculously fun.  He was definitely my favorite part of the cast, even though it was amusing to hear Sherlock being a cartoon wolf.  The film even works in the iconic voice of Werner Herzog for a delightful cameo and rounds out the cast with a group of varied but very fun and talented individuals.

Too bad they didn't design the doc filmmaker to look like Herzog, too.
Ain't no party like a penguin party.
I imagined that I was going to find Penguins of Madagascar fun and amusing but I wasn’t prepared for how truly awesome it was. The jokes are more than just kid nonsense, the story is solid and fun, the cast is fantastic, and the ensuing action that results from the story is epic beyond what a cartoon film should be. Additionally, the film offers up a lot of replay value because there is so much detail going on. The action and humor comes in fast and in generous proportions and I guarantee I missed some while I was in one of my many laughing fits. I would even dare say that I found this film more entertaining than the actual Madagascar films…but that might be because I’m bias and find penguins to be the most adorable animals in all of existence.
They're painfully adorable.

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