Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Cert PG, 93 mins
* * * *
We’re now on to the third film in the animated franchise, with many audiences probably forgetting why it’s even called Madagascar.
Certainly none of this film takes place anywhere near the Indian Ocean island.
To recap, in the first movie a group of animals escaped from New York City zoo and ended up in Madagascar.
In the second film, they tried to get back home but crash-landed in Africa.
Now they start to feel homesick and decide to head off to New York via Monte Carlo, where those clever penguins have won a fortune at gambling.
But resourceful though the aquatic birds are, they almost meet their match in animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), a great new character.
She will stop at nothing, even running through brick walls, to get her man – or in this case, lion. She is thrilled to be chasing a giraffe (Melman, voiced by David Schwimmer), zebra (Marty, Chris Rock) and hippo (Gloria, Jada Pinkett Smith).
But it’s lion Alex (Ben Stiller), “ze king of ze beasts”, whose head she really wants on her trophy wall.
To escape, the animals hitch a ride with a circus train and pretend they are also performers.
It’s a good way of introducing new characters like Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), the knife-throwing tiger, Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the sea lion (Martin Short). There’s also Sonya the bear, with whom King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) falls instantly in love.
The circus takes them through scenic locations to Rome and London, and the setting of a big top allows for some highly colourful scenes. The circus performance, with Alex on the trapeze, Melman on a tightrope and Marty flying through the air as a human cannonball, is especially effective in 3D.
It’s good to see that with a decent, fast-paced plot and some witty lines, the quality and entertainment value of the films has been maintained.
As Madagascar is now the second-highest-grossing franchise in the DreamWorks stable, behind Shrek, we can probably expect a few more of their adventures. RL
Cert U, 91 mins
* * * *
Dracula (the voice of Adam Sandler) isn’t scary at all in this film. Instead he’s an overprotective single dad, who just wants to keep his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) away from nasty humans forever.
Their sanctuary is the remote castle hotel he built for fellow monsters like Frankenstein (Kevin James), werewolves, zombies, witches and skeletons.
But on Mavis’s 118th birthday, student backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) turns up and she falls for him, much to Dracula’s horror.
The script has some good lines, thanks to British writer Peter Baynham who’s worked on Alan Partridge and Arthur Christmas.
The weird and wonderful hotel guests are a visual delight and there’s lots to take in, from monster bingo to shrunken heads as talking Do Not Disturb signs and the food – scream cheese, anyone?
It’s perhaps not quite as much fun as Madagascar and Frankenweenie but it is inventive. Checking into this hotel will give you a thrill and get you in the mood for Halloween. RL
Cert PG, 87 mins
* * * *
In 1984, Tim Burton made a half-hour version of this story and was then fired by Disney for scaring children.
It was to be his last short film prior to his feature-length debut with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985).
Twenty-eight years later, he’s back with Disney to prove them wrong now that he’s powerful enough to literally drain the colour from its castle logo.
Frankenweenie is an expanded adventure with the boy who is so passionate about science and horror movies that he tries to electrify his dog back to life.
For adults, there is the joy of seeing a director clearly giving us a labour of love with a film that ‘sells dreams’ and embraces all kinds of horror movie influences with an infectious sense of abandonment.
Children will be fascinated by the experiments and, for them, not only will this monster mash be a useful crash course into 1930s’ horror movies, it might just encourage some to want to become scientists, too. GY
Cert 12A, 118 mins
* * *
Iran is in the news again because of the latest escalation of tensions in the Middle East.
But underneath our Newsnight image of the country, movie-makers like director Asghar Farhadi, whose 2011 film A Separation made him first Iranian to win an Oscar, are very film literate and the subtitles soon become effortless to read.
Many a Hollywood movie (and the sterility of Margot at the Wedding oddly springs to mind) could have been transformed if they only had half of the French-style fluidity of About Elly, which Farhadi made earlier in 2009.
The story is about a young school teacher who is invited by the mother of one of her pupils to go on a weekend seaside trip.
The early singing and charades sequences go on a bit too long, but from the moment there is an incident on the beach, you’ll be concerned for everyone involved.
At the MAC, Cannon Hill Park, on Tuesday October 23 and Wednesday 24. GY