Penguins of Madagascar is a spin off from the 2005 animated movie, Madagascar. While it went into it expecting it to be a prequel, Penguins of Madagascar is, as it turns out, set after the events of the third movie. It follows the story of Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Private (Christopher Knights) and Rico (Conrad Vernon), four penguins who are forced to join forces with an undercover spy operation led by Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), a wolf who's name is, well, classified. Their mission? To take down the evil Dave (John Malkovich), who's threatening to destroy the world as an act of vengeance against the penguins.
I'm just putting this out of the way, I enjoyed the first three Madagascar movies. They're nothing groundbreaking, but the films are entertaining, and never once dropped in quality as the series goes on. Penguins of Madagascar was a film that I was looking forward to. I presumed it wouldn't be as good as the original three and I was right. The film looked fun, but boy, it really wasn't. The animation is colourful, and I'm sure little kids will be entertained, but I'm just talking about little kids here. What made the first three films so fun was that they appealed to more than just little kids. They could be, and they were, watched by everyone. With Penguins of Madagascar, while it's not the worst film you could see, it's certainly not as good as it could, and should, have been.
Penguins of Madagascar is more of a spy movie than anything else, which is both a good and a bad thing. This film feels different to the previous three Madagascar films. While there are certain scenes that tie them all together, the plot is what makes this film its own thing. It's a new approach, and that's refreshing, although that's not to say that the first three were similar in story either.
What brings this plot down is that it's all too familiar. It doesn't necessarily take off from any one thing i.e. James Bond, Mission: Impossible, but you can't help but feel that you've seen it all before. It's a tale already told, just, um, not with animals. Right from the get go you can tell how everything plays out, and guess what? It played out exactly how I predicted. With clichéd characters, a predictable plot and an unoriginal outcome, this movie really just didn't do it for me.
And do you know what else? This film's rarely funny too. There's a chuckle to be had here and there, but it's a bit of a mixed bag. The penguins are cute, and constantly reminded of that, and their dialogue makes some of the not so entertaining scenes at least somewhat entertaining, plus the 'accidental' celebrity name drops were the funniest thing this movie has to offer, but it doesn't come frequent enough. It's scattered.
To sum up, Penguins of Madagascar is a major letdown after the first three films, all of which I enjoyed. The humour, while funny, is never frequent enough, the storyline goes down a predictable path and everything's just a bit too familiar.
2 1/2 Stars