Complete A-Z list

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (3D)


Stars: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jada Pinkett Smith, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Cedric the Entertainer, Bryan Cranston, Andy Richter, Martin Short, Paz Vega, Chris Miller, Vinnie Jones

Director: Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath

Younger kids will love this movie, with its ultra-colourful circus backdrop, but it does stray rather too far into fantasy compared to the relative reality and acid wit of the first two. Funny lines are few and far between here, but the helter-skelter pace and numerous chases do make up some of the lost ground, as Alex the lion (Stiller), Melman the giraffe (Schwimmer), Marty the zebra (Rock) and Gloria the hippo (Pinkett Smith) are left stranded in Africa, while the penguins and monkeys fly off to Monte Carlo where, heavily disguised, they clean up at the gambling tables.

Following on, Alex and Co soon find themselves pursued by the determined Lt Dubois (McDormand), a rather tiresome character, before they hop on board a circus train, where, despite the reservations of Vitali the tiger (Cranston), who once jumped through small blazing hoops, but now languishes in bitterness after a disaster, and throws knives instead, they find themselves not only accepted into the troupe, but owners of the circus itself.

Alex devises new routines to make the circus a success again, the cue for a lot of psychedelic acrobatics, much in the manner of a Disney film from earlier years. He also falls for Gia, a slinky leopardess (Chastain), and restores Vitali's self-confidence. But Dubois is still on the trail, and our heroes' return to Central Park zoo leads to a (somewhat) unexpected conclusion.

A sea-lion - 'don't call me a seal' - is an engaging new character, but the famous penguins get too little to do this time around, with real animation inspiration in short supply. Finally, a memo to the screenwriters: it's OK to give lion, zebra and giraffe snorkels to swim underwater, but Gloria the hippo wouldn't need one.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
90 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Oct 2012