Penguins of Madagascar Review
Penguins of Madagascar is a 2014 DreamWorks animated action comedy film directed by Eric Darnell. It is one of the worst films from the studio and one of their most uninspired.
It is a spin-off of the Madagascar franchise and stars just the penguins who were sidekicks in that franchise. You shouldn’t take the funniest supporting characters from the film and give them an entire film for themselves. The characters that are supposed to be there occasionally and always be funny end up being annoying. This is one of the best examples of that and I hate when they continue to do it with these stupid spin-offs.
The characterization is quite weak. The penguins themselves are fine, but don’t get much depth. However, I liked what they did with Private. They showed us his hatching from the egg and then his adapting to the team. First being ignored, he later on becomes a valuable member of the team and that storyline is the most satisfying one here. I didn’t care much for the North Wind characters as they are all pretty forgettable and underused, although interesting when species are concerned. Classified is good and the sequence between him and the penguin on the plane is hilarious. Short Fuse and Eva are both underdeveloped and Corporal is better, but still fails to leave a bigger mark. As for Dave, his persona is typical, but at least they gave him a backstory which is somewhat satisfying.
The acting is excellent. All of the voice actors for the penguins did a great job, but John Malkovich is superb as Dave and Benedict Cumberbatch is really good as Classified. He fits this character wonderfully not only with his voice, but also with his British accent.
The story is weak. I liked the first scenes with Private being born and added to the team, but the whole second half is filled with too much action that was frustrating to follow. Yes, some of it was interesting, but most of the action was uninspired and dull. The film is awfully frenetic and that is its biggest detractor. But I liked the scenes with the villain and the final scene was emotionally satisfying.
The animation is pretty good. The character design is typical, but great for the newly introduced characters with the North Wind crew being interesting and Dave being very well realized. It looks good do watch and is polished, but is hardly inspired at all and isn’t one of DreamWorks Animation’s better animated works.
The humor is the best reason to see Penguins of Madagascar. Yes, they were funnier in the Madagascar franchise, especially in the original film, but they were still pretty good here and some moments were hilarious. The first scenes are pretty funny with the reporter moment being hysterical. But the best sequence has to be the one where Dave calls them on Skype and starts having his villain speech only to realize that the sound is not on. That was so incredibly funny and such a nice parody of action films and villains. And there were enough of these clever and funny scenes to warrant a viewing, but I still wished for more as most of the humor was forced.
Penguins of Madagascar is technically troublesome. The pacing is ridiculously fast and so annoying and the directing should have been better. The acting is great and the imagery is pleasant to watch with some scenes being gorgeous, but the animation is overall not that great or interesting. And the whole movie is like that – uninspired and forgettable. It isn’t DreamWorks’ worst movie, but is one of the worst as only ‘Shrek the Third’ is to me certainly inferior whereas others are debatable. The tone is okay as it does have its heart. It is mostly forced and typical, but it was heartwarming from time to time. The script is unoriginal and predictable, but the dialogue is mostly okay. The score is flat and the action is weak, but at least the humor is pretty good. I overall did not find this film bad, but it isn’t good either and is just mediocre and a forgettable diversion.