Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (4 stars)

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

The third in the animation trilogy offers superb entertainment

The naughty animals from Central Park Zoo return in this new animation from Dreamworks, and the third time proves lucky for Alex the lion and his chums, with Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted offering superb entertainment.

After the lacklustre Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa left the animals to an uncertain future, Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller) Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are pining for the Big Apple. Their flight from Africa takes them to Europe, where they join forces for a casino heist with some old friends: the mischievous but industrious penguins, the continuously cheeky monkeys and the amorous lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) who is still identified by his signature tune 'I Like To Move It'.

Complications arise when Alex's crew fall in with a dishevelled circus troupe, namely traumatised tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), sexy tigress Gia (Jessica Chastain) and jolly sea-lion Stefano (Martin Short). Alex inspires the circus to new heights of performance, but reality, in the form of animal-hating Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) inevitably catches up.

Easily the best family film of 2012 so far, directors Tom McGrath, Eric Darnell and Conrad Vernon pull off several dazzling 3D set pieces, including the casino heist and subsequent car-chase through Monaco, and a magnificently abstract evocation of the gang's circus performance, set to Katy Perry's self-expression anthem 'Firework'.

With scene-stealer King Julien relegated to a supporting romantic role, Madagascar 3 feels like a more focused ensemble piece, with Noah Baumbach and Darnell’s script satisfyingly rounding out the character arcs of the trilogy. The details are often delightful, notably the monkeys who disguise themselves as the King of Versailles. Outwardly respectable while inwardly greedy, their riotous appearance emphasises how all Madagascar's animals parody human characteristics to enjoyably madcap effect.

General release from Fri 19 Oct.

Madagascar 3 - Official Trailer (HD)

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 1h 33min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Eric Darnell
  • Written by: Eric Darnell, Noah Baumbach
  • Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer
  • UK release: 19 October 2012

Alex (Stiller), Marty (Rock), Melman (Schwimmer) and Gloria (Pinkett Smith) are pining for New York so they escape across Europe, only to find animal-hating Captain DuBois (McDormand) on their tails. Easily the best family film of 2012 so far, it’s a superb return to form after the lacklustre Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa.