It’s ironic for a show with such a great format, amazing challenges, and a generally insane season to have a finale that feels like a chore. This season of Ink Master was epic. Scott Marshall was a trash-talking mercenary set on winning the seasonal competition. He enlisted Matti Hixson in an attempt to get Sausage eliminated, but instead Sausage made it to the top two. He was talented, quiet, and a generally nice guy. Frontrunner Halo got eliminated despite being sure he’d make it to the finals. Three people had breakdowns. Returning contestant, Kyle Dunbar trashed a fellow artist for freaking out then physically attacked judge, Chris Nunez. All that, and there was a freaking appearance by Hugh Jackman. But this finale felt crammed with so much wasted time.
After years as a rock star, Dave Navarro is not afraid of anything. Especially cutting people off on a reality show. This season finale didn’t opt for juicy reality TV moments. Whenever things would get really tense, Navarro would cut everyone off. They took time to read real tweets including one that accused the judges of favoritism in the Scott vs. Sausage beef. Given the large number of boos from the audience, this may be the case. They also were pretty short when they talked to past contestants. Halo was cut off despite having a debate with another contestant about how he “played the game.” He was one of four former contestants who even said anything.
We were also robbed of the whole point we were there. This is a competitive reality show. We didn’t get a chance to see any elapsed footage of the elaborate 35-hour back pieces getting done. Instead we saw them as sketches and saw them completed. Viewers were asked to vote before even getting the chance to really look over these pieces or hear the judges critiques. Plus, anyone anxiously awaiting the return of Kyle Dunbar to see what he had to say it was cut off. He was a favorite to win but was a bit all over the place all season. Rather than hear what he had to say for himself he got cut off.
Instead of hearing from the former contestants, seeing the current participants working, or even hearing what the judges had to say we got to watch Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton live-tattooing. But honestly, by the time he’s in the studio and they’re filming he’s just adding details. The tattoo doesn’t look particularly different at any point that the show cuts to him. Also, there was more time discussing the format for Season 5 than spending any time with the cast. Season 5 will revolve around rivals and bring back Season 3 rivals Joshua Hibbard and Jason Clay Dunn. We didn’t really need a reel of them fighting to add any excitement to this finale.
In the end, Scott wins amid boos from the audience. It isn’t clear why he won and from Twitter it seemed like Sausage was a favorite. But it’s pretty funny that they did close to the same tattoo. It was a great season and the final pieces really were of equal intensity. However, this finale was overly saturated with product placement, had undefined relationship lines, and seemed both rushed and too long.
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.