Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Penguins of Madagascar ★★★

    In what seems to be an irresistible business opportunity and a rather favored formula for most production companies, Dreamworks has taken a few of its most well-liked characters and inevitably given them a spin-off motion picture. "Penguins of Madagascar," is simply a ninety-minute extension of the children's animated television show of the same name. Does this guarantee success? Not hardly, however, "Penguins" does cash in on the indelicate humor that fuels most of its films, and most of which would never be heard in the confines of a Disney picture.

    As far as whether or not the jocularity present in this particular depiction of our beloved James Bond-esque protagonists is on par with that of the animated series, I would not know, although I suspect it is homogeneous in nature. The story line is mostly pedestrian, and consists mainly of a sole villain (in this instance a purple octopus), whose actions stem from the hatred for these flightless birds, and an inner ambition to rule the world.

    We are introduced to our stumpy heroes, through a brief origin tale, which plays on several aspects of real life. Camera crews document the young birds, as they make their march, and while one of the younglings, Skipper, boldly rejects nature in order to save a runaway egg. Naturally, two more penguins--Rico and Kowalski--follow along, and once the hatchling is rescued, the foursome becomes the renowned group every child has come to love.

    After being ushered into the present day, the penguins become the focus of a revenge inspired plot, which will test each individual's role on the team. Serving as foil, is a team of polar residing animals (aptly named the North Wind), who unlike the penguins, come equipped with high-tech gadgetry, and three-dimensional schematics that would make even the most sophisticated hero envious.

    This all leads to a mundane climax, in which one of the penguins must prove his worth to the group. (For those of you who love Private, this film shall prove more riveting to you than most.) After all, the targeted audience is indeed that of children, and to hope for an imaginative story would be nothing short of futile.

    Humor is obviously the staple of this franchise, and with that regard, "Penguins" delivers. Whether it be the presence of a cricket (whose chirping subtly implies an awkward moment, and who then proceeds to get up and walk out of the room), or the lack of the technological knowledge of the antagonist (as he attempts to deliver a video message), it would seem that the amusement is sufficient for obtaining a chuckle or two.

    What distinguishes these heroes is their carefree attitude, and their inept preparation for missions, which ultimately leads to situational comedy. If the virtue of courage can be attributed to any perilous circumstance, in which the participant has no expertise, then these mammals certainly fit the bill.

    As I was leaving the theater, it came to my attention that animated pictures seem to no longer be as recurrent as past years, both in quality and quantity. The Academy Awards for this category has become quite a predictable event, as Disney seems to always demolish the competition. I would expect this year to be no different. No matter the outcome, however, the yearning for something even remotely comparable to the golden age of animation seems unfeasible. I guess stagnancy has finally superseded innovation.

No comments:

Post a Comment