Madagascar (2005) – movie review

Share now:

Movie Review by Ania Kalinowska

Starring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

MADAGASCAR, the new summer box-office hit, can be wedged somewhere in-between SHREK and SHARK TALE. Not basking in brilliance but not destined for the scrap heap either, it can safely be classified as pleasant and watchable but, unfortunately, deficient in an array of the above-average factors needed to shove it towards SHREK.

Dreamworks’ latest, the story of four nearly domesticated ‘wild’ animals that escape from a New York zoo and land up on the island of Madagascar, is an exercise in animation. Something called ‘Stretch Animation’ to be precise: the look stems from the classic 2D stuff of yesteryear applied to the 3D stuff that movies are made of today. Great. Fine. I can dig it.

But, at first seeing this film, how are you to know that this specific ‘look’ is what the artists are aiming for? Without that knowledge, you can’t appreciate it for the genius that it ultimately is, for in a sense this style provides the slapstick energy that makes it so (potentially) funny. So the result is something that looks lost and undecided – slightly disjointed, uneven, less smooth in terms of the animation that we’re used to seeing in movies like the SHREK’s.

The storyline as a premise is more attractive than it is in practice. There really have been smarter dialogues and characters to work with, and by all accounts this lot is pretty average. Yes, there are bits and pieces that will have you in stitches – there is a light of skill shining somewhere in-between the fauna and flora of Madagascar – but the Whole Package Deal promised by the purchase of your movie ticket is simply non-existent. The truth is, the WOW factor is missing, which is not to say it’s this movie’s fault per se, as we get used to better, highly innovative animated films, it’s tougher to get it right in all ways. There is just nothing really phenomenal about this movie.

Worth mentioning is the one animal who outshines all the creatures here combined – and is himself a great representation of a truly magnificent furry character! Sacha Baron Cohen’s (a.k.a. Ali G) ‘self-proclaimed’ King Julien the 13th (or something along those title lines…) is a stroke of genius whose screen presence should result in you having a taut tummy by the end of the movie!

Whilst it is impressive (and can only be appreciated) that a lot of imagination went into the film, it isn’t enough to save it from being a disappointing, lacklustre rendition of a story that ultimately struggles with itself. Maybe you’re not totally in the dark, but it’s tiring to feel like you’re permanently searching for the brighter light.

A film that’s enjoyable to watch, but nothing to brag about. Another one that will definitely satisfy the kids. But if you hunger for something more intellectually stimulating, you’re better off cashing in on a Happy Meal. It will probably leave you feeling a bit more satisfied…

3 out of 6 stars