Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted Blu-ray Review, a movie directed by Tom McGrath, Eric Darnell, and Conrad Vernon and starring Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Tom McGrath, and Martin Short.
Release date: October 16, 2012
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted bucks the trend of subsequent sequels steadily diminishing in quality from the original. The movie takes up where its predecessor left off: with our favorite zany quartet of anthropomorphic zoo animals desperately trying to make their way back home to the Central Park Zoo. Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) want nothing more than to fly off into the sunset in the penguins’ plane, but the penguins have not returned from their jaunt to the glamorous Monte Carlo. What’s the solution? Why, travel to Monte Carlo, of course. This bit of plot advancement requires a tolerance for the ridiculous, but after following the zoo animals in their adventures with the penguins and King Julien for two other movies, any audience will likely have re-evaluated its set point for what constitutes ridiculous.
In Monte Carlo on “Operation Penguin Extraction,” the quartet has a run-in at a casino with animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) and end up fleeing on a circus train under assumed identities. They are joined in their flight by the Skipper (co-director Tom McGrath) and his penguin crew, the chimpanzees, and the delightful lemurs King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his sidekick Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer). They learn their train mates no longer have any zest for their life’s work; the circus is a mess and the stowaways pledge to change that. What follows is a wild ride involving jokes galore, unbelievable acrobatics, a banana gun, and the infamous afro rainbow wig.
The gang has an opportunity to bond with and assist the other circus animals in realizing their dreams. Alex helps a depressed Siberian circus tiger named Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) overcome his stage fright and regain his zeal for performing. With Marty’s help, Stefano the Italian Sea Lion (Martin Short) discovers his passion for being shot out of a canon, while Alex finally develops a love interest in the form of Gia the Jaguar (Jessica Chastain). The entire gang reinvigorates the circus leading to a whirlwind Cirque du Soleil-inspired performance that just awes with color and sound.
With its overarching themes of “be true to yourself” and “home is where the heart is,” overall, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted delivers even better than the first two installments in the series. It is entertaining for kids of all ages with all the bright colors, loud sounds, catchy songs, and belly laughs one would expect from a well-traveled circus—plus the rainbow wig.
Dreamworks Video released Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted as a two-disc combo pack with an UltraViolet Digital Copy and a cardboard slipcover. Discs one is region free BD50 and disc two is a DVD-9. After a skippable trailer and several promo clips, the disc features a standard menu with full motion video clips and musical accompaniment.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted bursts with a stunning 1080P/MVC MPEG-4 encode. From the beginning, the foreground and background have impressive separation with the characters often coming right through the screen into the 3D viewing area. The Monte Carlo chase scene makes great use of space and distance with objects unpredictably flying all over the place often causing the audience to duck and dive lest they be struck.
The 1.78/1 image is a high-definition feast from the stitching in Captain DuBois’ uniform to the hairs on Alex’s mane to the rust on the penguins’ airplane. Small details are given the utmost attention. The colors are eye-poppingly vibrant, rich, and saturated befitting a circus. The contrast is strong with bright whites that leap out of the screen and rich, luxurious blacks that serve to further highlight the bright colors. The compression reveals no artifacts and there were only one or two instances of banding throughout the entire film. The finale at the zoo puts the entire spectrum on display including the range of blacks, the neon colors, the details, and the ultra-high contrast.
Unlike the first two Madagascar movies, this third installment features a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track to accompany the awesome visuals. There is fluid movement between the channels with discrete and clear off-stage audio events in a rich 360° soundfield. Directionality and panning are effortless: the chase scenes whiz past the listener and circus performers fly overhead. The bass booms during musical numbers and the ambience is appropriate, especially for outdoor scenes. Appreciably, sound engineers devote priority to the dialogue amidst the circus cacophony while still maintaining the deliciously chaotic atmosphere.
Directors Tom McGrath, Eric Darnell, and Conrad Vernon discuss production including character development, animation, and story boarding. Much of the same information is contained in the Animator’s Corner PIP HD bonus content.
Big Top Cast (14 minutes)
Cast and crew discuss the process of voicing the animated characters and drawing out their personalities.
Mad Music Mashup (1 minute)
A promo video with clips from the film playing over the theme song.
Printables and activities for kids; this DVD only feature requires a DVD-ROM.
Previews for other animated films from the studio.
Sneek Peek (1080i/60, 20 minutes)
A behind-the-scenes look at production on the How to Train Your Dragon live show it has interviews with actors, crew, and designers interspersed with clips from the show.
Blu-ray Bonus Content
The number one HD exclusive for this release is the limited edition Rainbow Wig worn by Marty in the movie. The Blu-ray combo also includes a DVD and an UltraViolet Digital Copy.
The Animators’ Corner
The Animators’ Corner is a Picture In Picture commentary track that plays in the bottom right hand corner during the movie. The directors Tom McGrath, Eric Darnell, and Conrad Vernon discuss production, casting, concept art, and storyboards. There is great behind-the-scenes footage giving the viewer a glimpse of how the massive undertaking all came together.
A cute little pop up with facts about the movie.
Get Them To The Train
An interactive game where players must match the animals to their train car, aim a canon, and shoot.
Ringmasters (15 minutes)
The three directors, Tom McGrath, Eric Darnell, and Conrad Vernon star in this one-day-in-the-life-of documentary that covers one day in production of this animated classic.
Madagascar 3 Roundtable (4 minutes)
Stars Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith discuss their experiences working on the Madagascar film series.