Review: PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 24 November 2014


4 stars
PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR may have been formulaic, but the animated feature is fast-paced, funny and zippy enough to make this a must-see family entertainment where both adults and kids can enjoy.

From the first MADAGASCAR in 2005 to the third installment of MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED in 2012, the lucrative animated franchise is mostly remembered for the scene-stealing penguin quartet comprising of Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. In fact, these penguins are so famous that they have their own short film, a video game and even an animated TV series which already ran for three seasons so far. So it's just a matter of time before they finally get their own feature spin-off with PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR.


PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR begins with a young Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) persuades his fellow friends, Kowalski (Chris Miller) and Rico (Conrad Vernon) to break off the tradition of all penguins should do, but rather go for something that serves a meaningful purpose for their life instead. After facing a runaway egg that eventually hatches a baby penguin named Private (Christopher Knights), the penguin quartet is ready to go globe-trotting as super spies. Their real adventure begins when they get involved with a vengeful Dr. Octavius Brine a.k.a. Dave (John Malkovich), a purple octopus who is hell bent to make them and the rest of the penguins around the world into hideous creatures so that people won't find them cute anymore. Complicating matters is the arrival of North Wind, an undercover task force led by a wolf nicknamed as Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), penguin-loving polar bear Corporal (Peter Stormare), explosives-expert seal Short Fuse (Ken Jeong) and beautiful owl Eva (Annet Mahendru) whom Kowalski immediately falls in love with.

From the hilarious prologue, which featured a worthy voice cameo from the acclaimed documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog himself, to an action-packed finale set in New York's Battery Park, directing duo Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith knows very well how to set up a pace that made the 92-minute running time feel fast and alive with enough action and humour. The jokes are mostly spot-on, with the more inspired gags involved making fun of celebrity names such as "Nicolas, cage them!", "Drew, Barry, more!" and "William, hurt them!". The action, in the meantime, is both thrilling and energetic blessed with great camerawork, as well as smooth editing by Nick Kenway. Kudos also go to catchy score by Lorne Balfe that fits the energetic tone of this animated feature.

Likewise, the penguin quartet -- voiced by Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon and Christopher Knights -- is enormously fun to watch for. The supporting characters are equally memorable as well, with John Malkovich having a tremendous moment voicing a wickedly villainous role as Dave, while Benedict Cumberbatch delivers an entertaining voice performance as Agent Classified.

The elaborate chase sequence between the penguins and the octopuses in Venice; and the final showdown in New York's Battery Park. 

If there's nitpicking in this animated feature, the plot -- written by John Aboud, Michael Colton and Brandon Sawyer -- is nothing more than the same old clichéd "save-the-world" premise which relies heavily on formula. And as I watched this at the IMAX 3D screening, I found that the inclusion of 3D isn't worth the extra ticket price at all and best to stick with digital 2D instead.


Fans of these penguins from the MADAGASCAR franchise will definitely love this fun-filled feature spin-off, and I have to say PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR is one of the most entertaining animated features ever seen for this year.

* This review is written courtesy from 20th Century Fox Malaysia IMAX 3D press screening *

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