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.
The British actor, who plays Porthos in the new movie adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel, has been at home on the fabled Mediterranean party isle for years - and he wouldn't trade it for anything.
He tells Black Book magazine, "It's like a gypsy island. Ibiza is like a port where you sail in on your boat, scrape the barnacles off, and take off again."
And he insists the place isn't all parties and nightclubs: "Most people who share that view of the island have never been. It's got the biggest clubs in the world, sure, but you don't have to be part of that scene."
Fans of author Alexandre Dumas' 1844 serialized novel The Three Musketeers (or heck fans of the 1993 Chris O'Donnell/Charlie Sheen Disney version!) beware: The latest incarnation bears little resemblance to the version you remember from high school English. Unless you sped-read through the reading in-between levels of your favorite video game—in which case it might be exactly as you remember.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat the Resident Evil franchise) orchestrates his Musketeers with the rhyme and reason of a confetti popper loading his cinematic shotgun with familiar story beats paper thin characters and anachronistic technology in order blast his audience all the way back to last weekend's Saturday morning cartoons. The movie opens with the titular swashbucklers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen) Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) on a mission to crack Da Vinci's vault where the legendary inventor's master work is kept hidden. After running jumping slicing dicing and pressing every A+B+X+Y button combo imaginable it's Arthos' lady friend Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich) who finally breaks in—only to steal Da Vinci's plans for a massive war machine and backstabbing the Musketeers in the process.
One year passes and we pick up with young son-of-an-ex-Musketeer D'Artagnan (Logan Lerman) who rides off to Paris in search of adventure. Before too long D'Artagnan crosses paths with the burnt-out swordsmen who see a little bit of themselves in the young lad who lays waste to 40 guardsmen after getting the stink eye (boy's got a bit of temper). The Musketeers return to form just in time as the movie's handful of villains are all preparing to strike at exactly the same moment. The Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) has built Da Vinci's balloon-powered airship and secretly plans an attack; Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) convinces Milady to double cross Buckingham planting the Queen's diamond necklace in the Duke's posession to incite war (but wasn't he already...? Nevermind); and Richelieu's number two Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen) who just likes to stab Musketeers in the face.
There's a whole lot of plot going on in The Three Musketeers but the film's presentation is so scatterbrained so rapid-fire that none of the many throughlines ever click to make sense. But Anderson gets very very lucky—thanks in no small part to a colorful cast that elevates the lazy storytelling with energy humor and charm. Macfadyen is stoic and sharp as Athos while Evans does his best to inject actual character into Aramis glowing with friendliness and warmth around his fellow Musketeers. Stevenson's rugged Pathos adds much needed comedy making up for the lame Planchet (James Corden) the Musketeers' Chris Farley-wannabe sidekick. Unfortunately Lerman's D'Artagnan is a black hole of charisma—not helpful as he's the crux of the story.
Anderson can't decide which plotlines to follow so great performers like Waltz and Mikkelsen are cut short in favor of spotlighting the scantily-clad Jovovich (yes even 1600s garb) who carries over all the wooden skills she demonstrated in the Resident Evil movies. Orlando Bloom might be the only cast member who realizes he's in a movie destined to be campy. Donning pastels glitter and eyeshadow Bloom twists his mustache and takes it over the top. That's when Musketeers is at its most fun.
Airship battles sword fights and fast-paced Ocean's 11-style infiltration montages are more entertaining than the silly story would suggest but more often than not Anderson downplays Three Musketeers most interesting aspect: The Musketeers themselves. Gone is the camaraderie the "all for one one for all." Instead Three Musketeers is an experience similar to watching a friend play video games. That friend's not going to waste time clicking through dialogue and learning the story when he could be zipping through adrenaline-infused landscapes blasting baddies into smithereens. Not even for your sake.
At the Saturn Awards last week, a handful of sites spoke with Guillermo del Toro about his next projects now that he's off The Hobbit. A roundup of del Toro's musings follows.
Per Collider, he said he has three finished scripts that he is deciding between for his next film. "If the one that I think will happen happens, it's something that started fifteen years ago. I wanted to do it fifteen years ago. We started. We couldn't do it. It went completely in a beautiful roundabout way and came back to me."
When he was asked if the project would be recognizable once it's announced, he replied, "Oh yes, yes, yes, trust me. And those are projects that are really great associations, world creation projects. Big projects."
Collider speculates that the next big project is del Toro's adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo, which has been given the working title The Left Hand of Darkness.
Regarding del Toro's Frankenstein project, the director said, "I'm presenting the storyline to Universal...but I think that I wanna be if possible shooting in May next year. So I need something that's ready to go into pre-production immediately."
Regarding Hellboy III, del Toro said, "The Hellboy screenplays are not quick to write. For whatever reason, they end up being very complicated to write. And I don't know why, so if we went and did Hellboy it would need to be the next movie after this one or whatever, but I don't know yet."
Per Bloody Disgusting, he also explained why his HP Lovecraft adaptation, At the Mountains of Madness, hasn't come to fruition, and why it may never.
"I'm like a broken record, I'd love to be doing Mountains of Madness. But still, even now, it's very difficult for the studios to take the step of doing an R-rated, tentpole movie with a tough ending, no love story, set in period from a writer...[who has] a readership as big as any best-seller, but it's [tough] to quantify because his works are in the public domain. But...they have been reprinted for so many decades and they have captured the imagination of so many filmmakers is how powerful this guys is. But since it doesn't look like I can do Mountains of Madness, I have now [narrowed down] the projects that I am interested in to three."
Del Toro added that he hopes to make his next project announcement at Comic-Con in July.
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.