A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
S1E3: Last night, The Killing proved one thing: it is not fucking around.
After a slow (but still fun, don't get me wrong) start to the series last week, we returned this week for some more creepy suspects, more investigation, and of course, more Seattle rain. But something felt a little different about this episode; and honestly, I'm not quite sure if I can put my finger on what exactly it was. In "El Diablo," the show continued to push the possibility that nearly every person on screen at any moment could be the killer or, at least, be connected to the killer. Combine that with the sinister footage at the end of the episode, and suddenly, we're operating inside of a world where we're not only uncertain of who is who or what is what, but also a world where terrible, terrible things happen. This, I think, is a smart strategy because an hour-long drama that focuses on only ONE murder is bound to feel slow and dragged out at times, so providing an environment that feels almost surreal, a hazy, dreamlike place where everyone's a suspect keeps the audience involved.
"We're still getting married, right?" -Rick
Linden and Holder are still investigating the murder, but it's taking much longer than Linden originally expected. She's been "forced" to stay to help investigate the crime. I used forced with quotations because it appears that inside of Linden's head, there's quite a bit of insecurity and doubt happening. I'm not really quite sure what to make of it, because we really don't know much about her relationship with Rick, and I don't want to say that she's using the murder as a reason to not commit to her new relationship, but at the same time, it's apparent that on some level she's using the murder as a reason to not commit to her new relationship. Undoubtedly, Linden cares tremendously for the Larsen killing and what happened to the family, and she very much wants to solve the crime for them. I don't want to doubt her motives. But with the amount of time the show continues to invest in her and Rick's relationship strife, I can't help but assume that there's some part of her that wants to stay in Seattle just so she doesn't need to deal with those problems.
"You told them we were at the dance!" -Kris Echols
Once the detectives discover that Kris was somehow involved with getting Rosie into the cage, they try to talk to him. He denies everything, and we think we've once again hit a wall in the case. Echols has something to do with it, for sure, but the detectives don't have any hard evidence to question him with -- that is, until one of the school teachers reveals a cell phone video he found. It's graphic, but it depicts Rosie Larsen being raped by both Kris and his best friend Jasper, who's wearing a devil mask as he does it.
The build-up to this moment was extremely well-done and proved that, if the audience is willing to be patient, the show will pay off. Sure, it may get tedious spending so much time focusing on only one murder, especially when we're used to shows like Law and Order or Bones where each case is wrapped in an episode. Regardless, this form of storytelling gives The Killing the opportunity to breathe a little bit. People and critics are comparing the show to Twin Peaks, and although that rings true, right now it feels more along the lines of The Wire. I know we're not tapping wires, looking for drugs and dealing with the world of Baltimore, but the show is taking its time flushing out all aspects of the murder: the cops, the family, the politics, the school, everything. Through an unfiltered eye, we're seeing each side of the story as it progresses toward its end goal of whodunit. And you know what? It's working. It's working really, really well.