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Penguins of Madagascar

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NOTE: Not to be confused with the 2008 TV show of the same name.

Penguins of Madagascar
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Well, boys, we did it.
Genre: Animation
Spy
Action
Comedy
Directed By: Eric Darnell
Simon J. Smith
Written By: Michael Colton
John Aboud
Brandon Sawyer
Starring: Tom McGrath
Chris Miller
Christopher Knights
Conrad Vernon
Benedict Cumberbatch
Ken Jeong
Annet Mahendru
Peter Stormare
John Malkovich
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 14, 2014 (China)
November 26, 2014 (United States)
Runtime: 92 minutes
Country: United States
Prequel: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted


Penguins of Madagascar (released on home video as Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie) is a 2014 American computer-animated spy action comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is a spin-off of the Madagascar film series and takes place right after the events of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, following the penguins: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private in their own adventure. Despite the title, it is directly unrelated to the Nickelodeon 2008 TV series of the same name.

The film was released two weeks earlier in China on November 14, 2014, where it was released by Oriental DreamWorks. Penguins of Madagascar was released theatrically on November 26, 2014, in both 2D and 3D, making it the only film in the Madagascar franchise to be distributed by 20th Century Fox as well as the final DreamWorks Animation film to be produced by Pacific Data Images prior to its closure on January 22, 2015, as well as DWA Glendale taking over.

Plot

Plucky penguins Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) -- the most elite spies ever hatched -- join forces with a chic undercover organization known as the North Wind. Led by highly trained, handsome, and arrogant Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), this special inter-species task force must stop their nemesis Dave the octopus (John Malkovich) from destroying the world.

Why It's A Cute and Cuddly Adventure

  1. The idea of the film about penguins from Madagascar movie is a very interesting and excellent idea, since, unlike Minions, the execution works very well. The premise of goofy penguins working with the serious North Wind is both a funny and enjoyable idea as well.
  2. The penguins are just as likable as they were in the other Madagascar films, and they do work on their own as protagonists.
  3. Very amazing and well-crafted animation that is another step-up for prior DreamWorks Animation movies and is also the last time we see a movie being animated by Pacific Data Images before it shut down.
  4. The humor, like in most Madagascar films, is so hilarious, like Classified trying to describe his team as Skipper keeps interrupting him while eating Cheesy Dibbles.
  5. Dave is a great and charismatic villain and he has a pretty interesting backstory.
  6. The storyline is pretty good and does serve its purpose as a spin-off.
  7. Lorne Balfe's score is excellent and well composed.
    • In particular, the new song performed by Pitbull, "Celebrate" that plays in the trailer and the end credits, is also catchy.
  8. The emotional core with Private trying to prove his worth works quite well.
  9. Good voice acting like its usual. The new cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare, and John Malkovich.
  10. The film packs the usual zany and crazy tone that one would expect from the Madagascar series.
  11. The backgrounds are beautiful, such as Antarctica.
  12. The international dubbing of the film is very nice.
  13. The landscapes of the world that are shown in much of the film are amazing and friendly.
  14. A pretty funny post-credits scene where after Skipper reverts Private to normal with Mort, he devours Julien in a single gulp.
  15. "You don't have a family, and we are all going to die. Sorry."
  16. Decent directing by Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith.

Bad Qualities

  1. The design of the characters (mainly Dave's) while spectacular, are somewhat grotesque or very flat, counteracting the design of the three predecessor films.
  2. Just like the three films, the story can be predictable at times, such as when Private strives to prove himself capable amongst his peers.
  3. Dave, although charismatic, eloquent, and motivated as a villain, also falls into the trope of the villain "He's bad because yes" and "Villain who is not a threat."
    • In fact there is a scene where Dave says that he is not a villain.
  4. Some serious plotholes/retcons:
    1. According to Dave, in all zoos the penguins were the biggest attraction in the world instead of the other animals, due to the Penguins' covert operations' secretive nature keeping them from public sight.
    2. Octopi were completely absent until up to this point.
    3. On more than one occasion, the film makes the penguins and humans look stupid or useless, contradicting the films of Madagascar, where they were seen (mainly the Penguins) trained for whatever situation they are in.
  5. The new characters like Dave, and The North Wind while friendly, themselves seem like copies of the predecessor characters from the three Madagascar movies.
    • Dave is very similar in personality to Julien and Captain Chantel DuBois.
    • Classified is similar in personality and attitude to Alex, Vitaly, Zuba, and Julien.
    • Short Fuse acts in the same way as Makunga, Mort, and Melman.
    • Corporal has a personality similar to that of Maurice, Mort, Marty, and Stefano.
    • Eva is practically identical to Gloria, Gia, and Alex's mother.
  6. The movie features several mean moments, though some of which would set up for later events.
    • Baby penguins are thrown into the abyss and most penguins consider their losses acceptable.
    • Dave is treated like trash by the people at the zoos.
    • North Wind Elitism.
    • An overprotective Skipper often looking down on Private.
    • Kowalski tells horrible stories to Private.
  7. Anachronisms: apparently this movie is set in 2012 after the events of Madagascar 3, but the movie has many references to 2014 and 2015.
  8. Dave's gimmick of naming his minions after famous actors, such as Nicolas Cage ("Nicolas, cage them!") and Elijah Wood ("Elijah, would you please take them away?"), gets old too quick and nervous.
  9. While likable, most of The North Wind (minus Classified) barely get any characters development. Eva, in particular, seems only exist to be Kowalski's love interest. In fact, their love story is quite forced since it literally comes out of nowhere, at the same time they only share 2 minutes on screen together and they do not show a good chemistry.
  10. False advertising: several penguins parachuting from The North Wind appear on the main poster of the film, this never happens in the film.
    • In a movie poster, it is said that this movie told how the penguins got to the zoo, however, the movie only tells how Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private met.
  11. There are scenes from the movie, where they make changes from IMAX 1: 9: 1 to STANDARD 2.2: 1 that are quite unnecessary.

Reception

Penguins of Madagascar did receive generally positive reception from critics and audiences, praising the action, humor, cast, soundtrack, and animation. The film has a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 110 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's consensus was "Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family.". On Metacritic, the film achieved a score of 53 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A–.

Box office

Despite receiving positive reviews, Penguins of Madagascar underperformed at the box office, grossing $373 million on a $132 million budget and forcing a write-down $57.1 million for the studio. The failure of this movie, alongside Mr. Peabody and Sherman, was the reason of a restructuring plan that closed PDI, causing 500 layoffs in January 2015.

Trivia

  • This is Benedict Cumberbatch's first animated film. His character in this cinematic film is a Eurasian wolf with a British accent.
  • King Julien's cameo during the post-credit scene has him being voiced by his TV replacement actor, Danny Jacobs, instead of Sacha Baron Cohen (although you can briefly hear Baron Cohen's voice as Julien singing "I Like to Move It Move It" verse of "Afro Circus" during the beginning of the movie).
  • Many people were confused as to why John DiMaggio was replaced as Rico by Mason's voice actor, Conrad Vernon, given that John could've easily reprised the role. It's rumored the reason he didn't reprise his role was because he was upset over Bennett and Stuart not reprising their respective roles as Kowalski and Private, but this has not been confirmed.
  • It spawned the "Well boys, we did it. *insert* is no more" meme.
  • On May 20, 2014, the film's release date was moved back to November 26, 2014, from its initial March 27, 2015 date, switching places with DreamWorks Animation's other film Home. Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's CEO, reasoned that the film, coming from one of DWA's most successful franchises, would have an easier task to stand out around the Thanksgiving holiday season while Home was to try taking advantage of a less competitive spring release window and repeat successful spring launches of some of DWA's original films, such as The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon.
    • Speaking of Home, it wasn't that great of a movie.

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