Penguins of Madagascar review by Rashid Irani: Such spy shenanigans

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  • Updated: Nov 30, 2014 15:31 IST



Eric Darnell and Simon J Smith


Tom McGrath, Benedict Cumberbatch



Over the years, an ever increasing number of A-list actors, ranging from Woody Allen (Antz) to Meryl Streep (Fantastic Mr Fox), have dubbed for cartoon characters in Hollywood movies.

This time, Penguins of Madagascar — the spin-off of the animated comedy-adventure series Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa — has also drafted German filmmaker Werner Herzog to provide voice-over narration.

Celebrated as much for his documentaries as for his fiction features, Herzog had previously pondered over the fate of penguins in the Antarctic-set Encounters at the End of the World. It’s a pity that his contribution to Madagascar is limited to a cameo during the prologue.

A mélange of mayhem and mirth, the story re-introduces us to the flightless bird quartet. Working as covert espionage agents, they attempt to foil the dastardly plan of an octopus (John Malkovich, gleefully over-the-top) determined to rid the world of all penguin-kind.

The fine feathered friends reluctantly join forces with an elite inter-species task force led by a snooty wolf referred to as ‘Classified’ (Cumberbatch).

Co-directors Darnell and Smith keep the pace brisk and the visual and verbal gags flowing. They also make judicious use of the 3D format. Tongue-in-cheek references to the James Bond flicks abound.

With its brightly coloured animation, witty puns and captivating characters, Penguins of Madagascar delivers a fairly entertaining all-ages adventure.

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