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.
Doug Liman's name has been associated with Warner Bros' sci-fi novel adaptation All You Need Is Kill since early this summer, but it has now been officially confirmed that the director of Jumper, The Bourne Identity, and Swingers has signed on to helm the project, described as "Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day."
That means Liman is officially off Warner Bros' in-development The Three Musketeers, which was likely going to lose out to Summit Entertainment's version anyway, since director Paul WS Anderson is already casting his own adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel.
All You Need Is Kill follows a young solider who dies in battle against a relentless alien invasion force, only to wake up the next morning to fight another day. And another. And another. As the recruit realizes he is trapped in some kind of infinite time loop, he begins to approach the battle like a video game, eventually transforming from a poor fighter into a powerful warrior in his repeated attempts to change his future.
Warner Bros. acquired screenwriter Dante Harper's adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's 2004 novel in a seven-figure spec deal earlier this year, and though there's no talk of a rewrite, it has been suggested that the script badly needs one. There's no set budget yet either, though obviously a movie of this kind would carry a hefty FX price tag if it's to be done right.
While it's still too early to be talking about a cast, All You Need Is Kill could provide an interesting opportunity for a number of up-and-coming young actors looking to play the lead ('Kiji Kiriya' in the book but an Anglicized 'Billy Cage' in the script). The part requires someone with a bit more brain than brawn, perhaps Aaron Johnson or Jamie Bell. And it's an exciting opportunity for Liman, who would've been great for The Three Musketeers but wasn't fast enough on the draw. Having seen a number of his films, I know this sci-fi studio tentpole is going to be in capable hands, whether the script is 'Grade A' material or not.
Source: Heat Vision
"All for one and one for all" is the noble credo of Alexandre Dumas' 17th Century swordsmen and the phrase should be quite apt for the eclectic cast of director Paul W.S. Anderson's developing 3D take on The Three Musketeers.
Heat Vision reports that Logan Lerman, who recently played the title character in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, is in negotiations to play D’Artagnan, a young man who leaves home to become a member of the fighting force of the French king’s royal household, while the titular trio of warriors will be played by Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans and Matthew Macfadyen as Porthos, Athos and Aramis, respectively.
Rounding out the cast as villains are Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu and Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort. Anderson’s real-life wife and frequent collaborator Milla Jovovich has been cast as Milady de Winter, a former love of Athos who is described as “17th century Bond girl” and an offer is out to Orlando Bloom to play nemesis the Duke of Buckingham.
Though the cast seems solid - chock full of the usual suspects for a period-set film - personally I feel that 3D is hastily wearing out its welcome and the Musketeers are not the kind of adventurers that I expected to see - or even want to see - in the third dimension. With Warner Bros. aggressively pursuing their own Musketeers project simultaneously (with Jumper director Doug Liman at the helm), it'll be a big-budget race to the multiplex and an interesting bout to see who will make the better film.
Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson is also working on a new Three Musketeers movie - his project will be a 3D version of the Alexandre Dumas novel.
Sherlock Holmes producer Lionel Wigram has signed screenwriter Peter Straughan to update the 17th century epic for Liman.
Cast details have not been announced.