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    December 3, 2014


    There are always enough reasons to love “Madagascar”. The animation franchise sees our zoo-friendly animals comprising of a lion, a zebra, a hippopotamus, a giraffe, and a bunch of others wandering off from the city life in the New York Zoo to the plains of Africa and then to the bustling continent of Europe. Each instalment is a journey filled with so many unique, fun and tantalizingly silly “fish out of water” story. And in each of those, the penguins, supposedly full-scheming and fluent in tactical skills, provide a very much efficient comic relief in between the story. So, it makes absolute sense when a movie based on the characters is green-lighted to take benefit of the rising trend of spin-offs. In Penguins of Madagascar, the quartet comprising of Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private, goes on a secretive and espionage-laced mission across the globe to stop a mad man (or octopus) with a vengeance that is related to their past encounters.

    Directly after the success of the circus band tour (as depicted at the end of Madagascar 3), the Penguins decide to celebrate Private’s birthday by breaking into Fort Knox so that Private can buy his favourite Chessy Dibbles. The Penguins are suddenly kidnapped by Dave (John Malkovich), an octopus who disguises under the human identity, a mad scientist who has a plan to assert revenge on the penguins. Seems like, Dave was once a famous star in the zoos, but his fortune and limelight was stolen each time when the Penguins arrived. Dave, who has been tracking the Penguins across the world, plans to capture as many penguins as possible and zaps them with Medusa serum to turn them into hideous creatures. The slick Penguins manage to escape from Dave’s lair. While given a chase by Dave’s squid henchmen along the canal of Venice, a group of animal spies called the North Wind, led by the fearsome wolf Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), comes to the Penguins’ rescue.

    The story in Penguins of Madagascar is not exactly revolutionary or up to the classical Pixar’s standard, but it should serve very well to offer a great entertainment and silly adventure for the younger audiences. It is the kind of modern spy thriller movie that we all familiar with – lots of cool gadgets, lots of talks about underdog vs the real deal, lots of henchmen, and lots of places-hopping action pieces. At times, the action sequences are so zany and fast-paced, but again, it is still funny if you can look past its point of absurdity. The story is thinly plotted and looks too harmless to follow; while it also makes few rounds of cliché messages about the importance of family and friendship, more likely to please the family audiences then. Otherwise, we are pretty much sold on the awesome foursome of skippers. And yes, the bad guy’s evil motivation stems from the fact that he is unable to bear with the cuteness of the penguins – oh wait, is not that El Macho’s premise in Despicable Me 2?

    Penguins of Madagascar are also blessed with amazing voice talents that are so authoritative and charming in figures. Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon and Christopher Knights reprising their roles of the quartet from the trilogy, joined by Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Peter Stormare and Werner Herzog in a star-studded voice extravaganza that are both fitting and proper. Sadly, the addition of so many supporting characters undermined their own existence in the movie, merely none of them really stand out. That leaves the Penguins, who are understandably silly, on the runway for their own.

    Penguins of Madagascar is just a slightly better offering from DreamWorks Animation. It is without a doubt being hilarious and adorable, no thanks to the titular characters, but it does not have enough original plot to tell and to show. And, the lack of depths on the supporting characters is also worrisome. B

    Numerical Rating (In case you are also interested):
    Story: 3.0
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 4.5
    Effects: 5.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 14.1/20.0


    Info Dashboard:
    Penguins of Madagascar
    Casts: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich
    Distributor: 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks Animation
    Director: J.P. Simon , Simon J. Smith
    Screenplay: John Aboud , Brent Simons , Michael Colton , Alan Schoolcraft , Brandon Sawyer
    Rating: U
    Release date: 27 November 2014
    Running time: 92 minutes
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