By Allison Skornick-Rose
Nov 25, 2014 11:08 PM EST

The Penguins of Madagascar Theatrical Review

Usually by the time a franchise hits the fourth installment it has run out of steam and unfortunately The Penguins of Madagascar isn’t the exception.
The Penguins of Madagascar Theatrical Review
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After three movies of playing bit characters in the background, the Penguins of Madagascar finally have gotten their starring roles.  The black and white, flightless birds that have always had about ten minutes of screen time are now the main players of the hour and a half The Penguins of Madagascar.  With their crazy strategic missions, they live life like no other penguins.  Riding the coattails of the popular television series, the movie will most likely do well at the box office despite a somewhat weak script.
In the new Madagascar movie, Skipper (Tom McGrath; Megamind, Monsters vs. Aliens), Kowolski (Chris Miller; Shrek, Monsters vs. Aliens), Rico (Conrad Vernon; Shrek, Bee Movie) and Private (Christopher Knights; Shrek, Megamind) find themselves the targets of a plot to rid the world of all the cute penguins.  The antagonist, Dave played by John Malkovich (Transformers:Dark of The Moon, Warm Bodies), is a purple Octopus who used to be the star of the zoo until our beloved penguins showed up, stealing the spotlight.  Constantly being shoved in the background and transferred from place to place, Dave harbors a hatred that fuels his lust for revenge.  After creating a "Medusa serum", Dave kidnaps the penguins of the world in order to turn them into hideous monsters.
Presented in 3-D, The Penguins of Madagascar really isn't.  I forgot I was wearing the glasses until the movie was almost over and I didn't notice anything "stand out" or "fly at my face".  I wouldn't waste my money on the 3-D version as I don't feel it's worth it.
McGrath, Miller, Knights and Vernon are the same as always and are good as the team of highly tactical penguins we know and love.  Malkovich is great as Dave and plays the villain with his usual flare.  Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, 12 Years a Slave) plays Classified, the leader of a secret organization called "the North Wind", set to save the penguins and bring Dave to justice.  Unfortunately, he sounds exactly like one of his other characters, Smaug the dragon from The Hobbit which is a little disctracting.
While the plot is nothing we haven't seen before, the penguins certainly make it fun with their outlandish schemes that somehow manage to run like clockwork.  The visuals are very good and full of vibrant colors which are sure to attract and hold the attention of younger audiences.  The purple octopus particularly stands out and the park scene at the end of the film is colorful and lively.
Usually by the time a franchise hits the fourth installment it has run out of steam and unfortunately The Penguins of Madagascar isn't the exception.  It's a cute movie that has a few laughs for the adults and will probably be fun for its intended audience but overall I wouldn't consider it one of the best animated movies in recent history. B-

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MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 92 minutes
Distributed By: DreamWorks Animation

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