Penguins of Madagascar – Movie Review
Penguins of Madagascar – PG
Release Date: Wed 26 Nov 2014
The penguins were characters that screamed out for their own movie. After appearing in the Madagascar series and a couple of shorts, we finally get a movie devoted to the goofy birds and their shenanigans. While the Madagascar movies had a big cast of well known voices attached, the penguins were always voiced but the writing and directing team along with a couple of others you wouldn’t recognize. The more I see animated films go with unknown voice actors, the more I appreciate it.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few celebrity cameos as Benedict Cumberbatch and Ken Jeong have small roles as members of the spy team North Wind. John Malkovitch also shows up as Dave the Octopus, the film’s villain. I didn’t put any of that together until I saw the names in the end credits, and that’s also a point in this movie’s favor. Sure it’s great to have a couple of big names in your movie – but if you can make them integrate so well they aren’t noticed, so much the better.
Penguins is also the tightest storyline of the Madagascar series with an underlying arc of Private finding a way to be useful to the team, and the team itself finding a sense of family. It’s also full of the insane set pieces the penguins are known for, where they mostly just make falling off of something look as cool as possible.
If you’re a fan of the Madagascar series, you’re sure to enjoy Penguins. More surprisingly, the movie seems to pull off the neat trick of replacing everything that has grown tired about it’s parent series with fresh, fun characters and comedy. There are a couple of nods in the writing to how sick the penguins are of some of the songs used in the earlier films. It’s a great inside joke that trusts the audience to enjoy it for what it is and never miss what it is not.
Our showing was in 3D, and while it looked good in 3D it didn’t add enough to warrant recommending the higher ticket price.