Thursday, October 18, 2012

Movie Review of DreamWorks "Madagascar"


Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, Madagascar is an interesting, hilarious animated film made by DreamWorks. Featuring the voice talents of Chris Rock (Marty), Jada Pinkett Smith (Gloria), Ben Stiller (Alex), David Schwimmer (Melman), Sacha Baron Cohen (King Julian), Andy Richter (Mort), Cedric the Entertainer (Maurice), Tom McGrath (Skipper), Chris Miller (Kowalski), Christopher Knights (Private) and Conrad Vernon (Mason), this film will make you laugh until your sides get sore. Add to it the wonderful music composed by Hans Zimmer, who won an Academy Award for his composition of the music for The Lion King, and you have a truly delightful movie.

The movie starts off with Marty the Zebra (Rock) daydreaming about living in the wild when he is interrupted by Alex the Lion (Stiller) who has come to wish him a happy 10th birthday. Marty complains a bit to Alex about the monotony of living in the zoo until Alex gives him a pep talk right before the zoo opens and then all of the animals go through what we assume is their normal routine for Friday which they say is field trip day. Marty proceeds to try to make his performance as fresh and new as he possibly can until later in the day he is surprised when four penguins pop up out of the ground having dug tunnels under the zoo with plastic spoons. This is a subtle reference the the movie The Great Escape including the fact that they did not dig far enough and are actually still in the zoo. They tell Mary that they're escaping into the wild so that they can get to Antarctica. They put the idea into Marty's head that he wants to go to the wild too and that night when his 3 best friends throw him a birthday party he blows out the candle and wishes he could go to the wild. At first he refuses to tell his friends what he wished for because it's bad luck but they say "What could happen?" (famous last words of course) so he caves in under the pressure. They all immediately scoff his idea and tell him it isn't a good idea. So he bids them a sad goodnight and gets on his treadmill and stares at the beautiful mural in the wall in front of him as he walks. Gloria the Hippo (Smith) tells Alex that he has to go talk to Marty because he's Marty's best friend and their friend Melman the Giraffe (Schwimmer) agrees. So Alex gives him a pep talk of sorts ending it by singing "New York, New York." Then Marty asks Alex to come with him and Alex thinks he's joking and Marty pretends to agree and goes to "sleep."
A couple hours later when Melman gets up to go to the bathroom he notices Marty's gone and tells Alex and Gloria.

Strutting down the street
While they figure out what to do to save him we cut to Marty who is prancing down the street to "Staying Alive" as he heads for Grand Central Station to take a train to Connecticut because Melman said earlier that it had wide open spaces. Cut back to the zoo where Alex has leaped over the wall right when Gloria bursts through said wall after him. Melman volunteers to stay behind but Gloria and Alex make him come with them since he knows how to get to Grand Central Station. After they leave the two monkeys, Mason (Vernon, who was the Gingerbread Man in Shrek) and Phil go out through the wall to go listen to Tome Wolfe speak at the Lincoln Center. Mason speaks whereas Phil only uses sign language. Cut to Marty ice skating in the Rockefeller Center.
Waiting for the Subway Train
Cut to Gloria, Alex and Melman down in a deserted subway station waiting for the subway so that they can take it to the Grand Central Station. After they board the subway train which is quickly vacated by the people riding in it we cut to Marty talking to a police officer's horse (David Cowgill) and asking him for directions in Times Square. After the horse gives him directions we hear his rider speaking into his walkie talkie asking if he can shoot the zebra when the reply is negative he requests more back up. Cut to Alex, Melman and Gloria riding in the subway and arriving in the station. Cut to the other formal front entrance where Mary is entering the building and looking around. The other animals come up the subway stairs with screaming humans running in from of them. One little old lady stops and goes all wacko on Alex beating him up with her purse. Alex catches Marty and then they get surrounded by police men with plastic shields. The two monkeys are also discovered in the station as well as the four crazy penguins. A lone animal control officer is shoved into the circle with Alex and Mary in it and finally darts Alex which causes him to lose consciousness and hallucinate. He has barely woken up, seen animal rights activists pushing to have he zoo animals shipped to the wild when the animal control officers see him awake and dart him again.
After the incident in Grand Central Station the animals wake up in crates
This time when he wakes up he is in a box with a little bit of hay. He starts to freak out when he hears Marty in a crate beside him, Gloria in a crate under him and Melman on his other side. They start to argue and the camera zooms out of the boxes so that we see the actual crates they're in and that they are on a large cargo ship in the middle of the ocean.
Skipper to the monkey Mason: "Can you read?"
We zoom in to another area of the ship where we see the penguins in a box with holes trying to read the shipping label but they can't so they ask the monkeys across from them to do it and Phil signs what it says and Mason translates. They are being shipped to the Kenya Wildlife Preserve in Africa. Well, the penguins want to go to Antarctica so they escape, take over the ship and turn it around while Marty, Melman, Gloria, and Alex argue some more and bang around their crates until they fall off the boat and are adrift separately at sea. Alex washes up onto a beach alone with a huge jungle in front of him. He starts yelling for the others over and over running across the beach until the sun rises. His last phrases start to turn into other names and he ends up calling for the NBC news reporters "Regis. Kelly. Matt, Katie, Al." Then he sees Melman's box moving around on the beach. He tries to free Melman when Gloria washes up on the beach and sends Alex crashing into Melman's box effectively freeing him from the crate.
Gloria: "Alright boys, fun's over."
Then Marty comes in surfing on two dolphins through the surf. Alex sees Mary and Marty sees him and they start to run to each other in slow motion to the music of "Chariots of Fire" which eventually changes because Alex starts chasing and yelling at Marty for getting them into this mess and we get back up to normal speed film. Then Gloria and Melman stop the other guys from fighting and they try to figure out where they are. Melman thinks they are in the San Diego Zoo. They try to figure out where the people are so they can get checked in. Then they hear music and head for it because they think people will be where the music is but instead they run into a huge group of lemurs. There are actually 1,100 lemurs in the shot (special features commentary).  When they look at the group a lemur starts to sing "Move It" and everyone dances and sings. When Gloria Melman and Marty realize Alex isn't there they look back behind them and while they are doing so a lemur starts to yell that they are being attacked by the fossa. When Alex gets there he pushes through the tall leaves to find 4 fossa tossing a small lemur in a salad. This little lemur got left behind when all the other lemurs ran and hid but when Alex comes through the leaves it distracts the fossa enough that the little lemur is able to escape and runs back to hide with the other lemurs. Then the other three behind him notice a huge spider crawling on his back and as Alex turns his head and sees it the spider says "Well, howdy-do?" before Gloria tries to kill it with a stick. With lots of cries of "Get it! Get it!" (including the spider, herself yelling "Get it! Get it!"), this process scares the fossa away because of Alex's teeth and roaring.
Spider on Alex's back says "Well, Howdy-do?"

Lemurs Plan to determine if the Zoo animals are "savage killers"
As this go on we cut to the leaders of the lemurs King Julien (Cohen) his advisor Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) and the tiny lemur who escaped the fossa because Alex scared them away called Mort (Richter). Mort asks King Julien what the new creatures are and King Julien says "They are aliens. Savage aliens from the savage future." Maurice adds in "They've come to kill us. And take our women. And our precious metals." Mort starts to cry. The king gets everyone to be quiet while they watch as Alex is helped up by his friends until Mort says "They are savages. Tonight we die." and hugs the king's feet which ticks King Julien off until he comes up with a plan to figure out if they are savage killers. He sends Mort out as bait.

Mort wants Gloria to pick him up after he was scared by Alex
Mort sits there curled up with his cute little tail shaking as Alex comes to say hi. With one look at Alex's teeth Mort starts to cry and when Alex tries to cheer him up Mort starts to cry even louder. This is where Gloria moves the lion out of her way and talks to the scared Mort, picks him up and holds him. We cut back to King Julien who announces that "They're just a bunch of pansies." Then he and his people go out to greet the pansies. While King Julien shows off, the four of them try to figure out what these creatures are and settle with they are some type of squirrel. King Julien says "We thank you with enormous gratitude for chasing away the fossa." Gloria says "The 'whossa'?" Julien says "The fossa. They are always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties and ripping our limbs off. [...] You must tell me, who the heck are you?" Alex says, "I'm Alex. The Alex. And this is Gloria, Marty and Melman." Maurice asks "And just where are you giants from?" Alex says, "we're from New York and..." he gets cut off by Julien who says "All hail the New York giants!" While the lemurs yell and scream Alex turns to the others "I say we just got to ask these bozos where the people are." A voice comes from below Alex and lying down under his legs and says "Excuse me. We bozos have the people, of course." Melman: "Hey, the bozos have the people." Alex: "Oh, well, great. Good. Phew." King Julien (who is under Alex) points at the tree and says "They're up there."
The zoo animals find out that there are no live people in this jungle. 
 Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria look up to see the skeletons of people in the tree and this is where they find out that they are in the wild.  Alex freaks out and runs for the ocean determined to swim back to New York (despite the fact that he can't swim). The others come after him. Gloria tries to clam Alex down while Melman is having a nervous breakdown and Marty is skipping and jumping for joy. Gloria calms the others down by telling them that the people probably didn't leave them there on purpose and that they should just wait on the beach because surely the people will come back to get them. "You know something? I bet they're already on their way." Said Gloria.
Cut to the boat in Antarctic waters where a line of text comes up that reads "2500 miles South."We go to the interior of the boat and the Penguins have taken over everything and have the ship's captain tied up and gagged in a corner. They break out the champagne to celebrate almost reaching their destination.
Melman, in his grave with his will written in the sand.

Cut back to the beach where Melman has written out his last will and testament on the beach sand and is sitting in a hole he dug with the intention being he made the hole for his grave. Gloria and Alex stand on either side of him as he speaks out his last wishes. After a beach wave comes up and erases one third of his will Marty comes bounding over and tells Melman good work on the latrine. Alex yells at Marty for sending Melman to his grave. Melman says to Marty "You abused the power of the birthday wish and brought bad luck on all of us." Melman, Gloria, and Alex finally lose patience with Marty so Alex  takes a tree log and divides the beach into two sides declaring that Marty's side is the wild side and Melman, Gloria, and Alex are on the side that wants to go home. Marty declares his side is the fun side and gets to work making up a bachelor pad type outdoor living area with a roof. Alex is building a huge object when he sees Marty having fun and not being miserable like the rest of them. Then he turns and yells at a cut up basketball with a face painted on it "Shut up, Spaulding!" (Spaulding being the company that makes basketballs and this is a reference to Castaway) And he goes back to work and finally finishes his huge statue of liberty on the beach. He wants to light her beacon on fire so that the people can see it and come rescue them. Melman has been delegated the job of making fire but hasn't been able to until suddenly they go up in flames and he panics and runs around the statue accidentally lighting it all on fire. Alex has to jump off of her to save himself and then he turns and sees the wreckage of what was his liberty statue and yells, in almost the exact words that Charlton Heston used in the original Planet of the Apes movie with only a slight change so it would be PG rated, "You maniac! You burned it up! Darn you! Darn you all to heck!"
The original The Planet of the Apes  scene
Madagascar's version of  The Planet of the Apes scene
Melman asks right after Alex yells that "Can we go to the fun side now?"

Cut to the crashed plane in the lemurs' tree where King Julien and Maurice are talking to the group about how they can make sure the New York giants stay so that the dreaded fossa will not return ever again. They decide to make sure the giants wake up the next morning "in paradise." Maurice voices a complaint that Alex might be worse than the fossa but his comment is stricken from the record for speaking out of turn.
Cut to Alex sitting on the beach alone with the word "HELP" spelled out with palm tree trunks behind him. Since Gloria and Melman have left and joined the fun side Marty crosses the line to invite Alex to come over too. At first Alex refuses and Marty leaves him to think about it. Then the letter "P" in his sign the trunks making up the bubble in the "P" fall down to the ground so that for a few seconds it spells "HELL" out instead. Then its a quick cut to Alex joining the fun side after apologizing to Marty.  Marty serves them some food "seaweed on a stick" which Melman and Gloria love but Alex doesn't and he says he really wants steak so Marty swears to him that he will find him a steak tomorrow "even if it kills [him]." They lie down to go to sleep and Alex dreams of steak until he is woken up by the others yelling at him because he's licking/tasting Marty's butt. He quickly pretends he'd been counting the stripes on Marty's back to find out whether he is white on black or black on white. Alex declares he's black with white stripes and everyone goes back to sleep. We move into a tree on the edge of the forest where all the lemurs are waiting for the New York giants to fall into deep sleep before they carry them to their home and version of "paradise." 
Antarctica. "Well, this sucks!"
Cut to the penguins in Antarctica. The four of them have gotten off the boat and stand beside each other as we see the view of nothing but cold windy mist clouding up the air and the fact that nothing else is in sight. After a few moments of this one of the penguins turns to the others and says, "Well, this sucks!"
Cut back to King Julien, who wakes up Alex (whose point of view we are seeing as he wakes up) and the zoo animals wake up to find they've been carried away in their sleep to the lemur's beautiful home with waterfalls and all manner of herbivore geared plants. They show Marty the view from the top of the hill and it is just like what is painted on his mural back at the zoo. He and Alex race and during that time Alex undergoes a slight change. His claws come out of his front feet, sharp and ready to use, and his eyes' pupils shrink while the irises grow larger and he becomes more like a predator. They go back to the lemurs' home where Gloria and Melman are having a good time. Marty insists Alex perform his show that he does in NYC but during that Alex starts seeing all of the animals as steaks and ends up biting Marty's butt. Alex goes completely wild and starts chasing down Marty and the others but right after the musical fanfare from the National Geographic programs he gets hit in the head with a large coconut like fruit and briefly he is shaken out of his hunting mode where he realizes what he's done and sadly heads over to the fossa side of the island while Gloria, Marty and Melman head the opposite direction surprised by the fact that they are actually steak to a predator. While the zoo animals walk in the aforementioned direction we cut back and forth from Alex traveling and the others traveling. The song "What a Wonderful World" is played over the two scenes while the scenes show the exact opposite of what the song lyrics indicate. Mary, Gloria and Melman see a hummingbird eaten by a Venus fly trap, then a rabbit like creature gets attacked by a snake which he escapes only to be caught and taken by a hawk. Then the zoo animals see a cute little duckling walking alone and Marty grabs him and takes him to the lake at the end of the path before anything bad can happen to it. Only right after Marty has backed away from the shore and the duckling has started to swim a crocodile lunges up and eats it. During the cuts to Alex we see him building an enclosure for himself to keep his friends safe from him. See it happen at this link (the picture quality isn't very good on this youtube video but it gets the point across. You'll probably have to copy and paste the link because I can't get it to work right.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=320iRHo-9RY&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Cut back to Marty and Gloria and Melman who are trying to figure out a way to help Alex and Marty blames himself for all of these bad things happening. Gloria starts giving them a pep talk when they here the horn of the boat blowing. They all rush to the beach to flagged down the boat. Marty decides to tell them to flag it down while he goes and gets Alex but Gloria stops him and we watch the four penguins disembark and land in front of the zoo animals. One of them is holding a bottle of sunscreen. When Gloria sees them she says "You?! Oh, man... Where are the people?" The skipper says "We killed them and ate their livers." Cut to Gloria and Melman's stunned faces. Back to the penguin who says "Got you, didn't I? Just kidding, doll, the people are fine. They're on a slow lifeboat to China. Hey, I know you two. Where's that psychotic lion and our monochromatic friend?" Gloria and Melman gesture to show Marty's there with them when they see that he actually isn't. They deduce that he has gone back to get Alex and Gloria says "He went back for Alex. He's going to get himself killed!" Skipper turns to the other penguins and says "Well, boys, our monochromatic friend's in danger. Looks like we have a job to do. (to the Private who starts writing all this down on a notepad with a red crayon) Captain's log: Embarking into hostile environment. (to Kowalski) Kowalski. We'll need to win the hearts and minds of the natives. (to Rico) Rico. We'll need special tactical equipment. We're going to face extreme peril. Private probably won't survive."

Hearing this the Private's crayon breaks and we cut to Marty traveling down the predator path to the fossa side of the island to get Alex. He is unaware of the fossa following him. We cut to Alex who is asleep on a rock in his built enclosure and dreaming of all the children and people who came to see him perform in the form of steaks. He is then woken up by Marty who has reached his enclosure. Marty tells him the boat has come back and they can leave but Alex tells Marty to stay back and under further pleading he accidentally swipes at him with his paw before pulling back and saying "I don't want to hurt you." Then he goes inside of a small cave-like rock hut. We cut up to the top of the rock cliff looking down into Alex's enclosure in a dirty over the shoulder look from the fossa looking and getting closer to Marty. Back to Marty, who climbs over and into the enclosure but stops outside the rock hut to talk to Alex. He told him that he's not going to leave without him and then he sits down on a rock outside of the hut but still in the enclosure to wait. While he's waiting he decides to try and get Alex to sing "New York, New York" just like Alex tried to get Marty to sing it at the beginning of the movie except Alex doesn't join in.
The Fossa.
 Then Marty realizes he is being surrounded by fossa and he calls Alex for help but Alex disregards it and doesn't know that the fossa are trying to kill Marty. Marty starts to run crying "Help!" over and over again until Melman swings down from a vine giving a "Tarzan" yell and scoops Marty out of the fossa's reach only to run smack dab into a rock. Gloria is right there beside him and she yells "Run!" and they all run as fast as they can to escape the huge following of fossa. Marty asks "What's the plan?" Gloria replies as she runs "This is the plan." We zoom in on two fossa running and one of them says "Fossa hungry." The other one says "Fossa eat." Marty yells "This is the plan?" Then one of the penguins, the Skipper slides in between the zoo animals and the fossa and points a red flare gun at the fossa and says "Fossa halt." And they do and so do the zoo animals who turn around to see the penguin pointing the gun at the fossa. Then the Skipper points it straight up and fires it into the sky. The fossa watch it saying "Fossa ooh. Fossa aaahh. Fossa ooh. Fossa aaahh." While they are distracted the penguins proceed to make a diversion by putting a penguin with cool whip and a cherry on top of a plate on a rigged table made out of the ship's steering wheel. The penguin on the plate yells to the fossa "Come and get it." The fossa stop saying their line and turn their attention to the penguin on a plate. This works as a distraction for awhile but everyone is really saved when Alex comes in pretending that he is the main predator and these zoo animals are his food only and yells at the fossa to stay away from this place and never come back again. They all run away and Gloria, Melman, Marty and Alex celebrate with a group hug. Then Alex asks "So, what's for lunch?" The other three animals eyes go wide with a loud violin note at the same time and we cut to the beach where the penguins have come up with an idea for Alex to try sushi and see if that will work. King Julien has a Plan "B" just in case it doesn't work and he holds Mort up to Alex's mouth but the sushi does work and everybody celebrates and King Julien gives Alex his crown as a parting token, but only because he has a new bigger crown for himself. This one has a gecko on it. Then all the zoo animals except the four penguins get on the boat and wave goodbye to everyone. We cut to the penguins suntanning and waving to Gloria, Marty, Melman and Alex. Private says "Skipper? Don't you think we should tell them that the boat's out of gas?" Skipper: "Nah. Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave." And End Credits roll here to the song "Move It" complete with dancing animals and people from the movie.

"Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."


The key voice actors and key animators definitely exceeded my expectations in portraying the story. It was fun and hilarious to watch. They used the type of cartooning that is classic to most old cartoons but they made it for the 3D world which is no small feat. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and watching it again. I loved the madness of the lemurs but I must admit that my favorite character was Mort. He was just so cute! The fact that 60% of his head was taken up by his pleading eyes had something to do with that fact I'm sure.

The use of music in this film was very well done with just enough scoring to match the right amount of songs with lyrics although the characters themselves never sing except for King Julien who sings "Move It." That was my favorite scene to watch. The one with all the dancing lemurs. But I also liked the complete disparity between the song "What a Wonderful World" and the action sequence that was actually happening onscreen. That was art to me and it was very good for an animated film. The jump cuts were used a lot to help the feeling of being rushed or chased or scared feel more realistic. The Point Of View shots when Alex wakes up from sleeping and we see through his sleepy eyes and therefore see the darkness inside his eyelids before he truly wakes up.

Good bye everyone!
Definitely go out and watch Madagascar. It is a very good funny movie. If you're sad or bored or tired sit back and watch this movie and you'll feel better afterward. I also loved the penguins being portrayed as spies and ninjas. This whole movie is one whole laughing fit. Your sides might get sore but it's worth it. Don't forget to stay for the credits, since there are many more characters dancing in it than in the movie. Mort even does a breakdance. Go watch this movie now and you won't regret it!

Note: The movie animation is better than this shows. 






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