"The Penguins of Madagascar"; Voiceovers by: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovitch, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru and Peter Stormare; Co-directors: Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith;
These animated, flightless birds fly high in the entertainment arena! In this edition, the no-nonsense tactical team of penguins, who stole hearts in the previous three "Madagascar" films, get their own feature to prove that they are high-profile entertainers.
Directed by Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith from a finely tuned script designed by screenwriters Brandon Sawyer, John Aboud and Michael Colton, the film is a high-pitched and action-packed, revenge saga.
The film begins by reintroducing, to the audience, the illustrious globe-trotting spy team of the "Madagascar" series.
The back-story: Three penguins -- Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller) and Rico (Conrad Vernon) step out of the norm of their traditional "flocking together" group to save an abandoned rolling egg from hungry seals. The little penguin that hatches from the egg is named Private (Christopher Knights). Together, they form a formidable group unearthing covert operatives ever since.
Ten years later, during one of their espionage expeditions at the behest of Dave (John Malkovich), also known as Dr. Octavius Brine who is a super genius Octopus disguised as a human scientist, the quartet are captured by North Wind rescue team. This is an elite undercover inter-species task force dedicated to helping animals who can't help themselves.
Now in captivity, the four of them realise that Dave is nursing a grudge against them for stealing the attention showered on him years ago at the San Diego Marine Park, although they were oblivious of the incident.
And now he is out to seek revenge against all penguins for being the more popular and beloved attractions at soos. He intends carrying out his plan by subjecting all penguins to "Medusa Serum", a solution he developed which would change them and thus render them unappealing to humans for the rest of time.
Luckily for the penguins, the North Wind rescue team arrive to help. The team is headed by the arrogant gray wolf known only as Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch). He is assisted by the loving bear Corporal (Peter Stormare), the hot-headed, explosive and demolition expert harp seal known as Short Fuse (Ken Jeong) and the intelligent "Intelligence Analyst" snowy owl Eva (Annet Mahendru),
It's race against time for the combined teams under Skipper and Classified to see if they can stop Dave before he succeeds.
Narrated in a non-linear fashion, the story is not at all elevating. The plot is simple, cute and occasionally funny. The voices lent by the star cast synchronise aptly with the characters and their moods.
While the kids will ruminate over the high octane action scenes, it's the pun-filled dialogues like "Nicohlas! Cage them," or "We are North Wind! Nobody dare break wind" that will keep the adults in splits.
Overall, with attractive well-packaged visuals, good picture-perfect animation and competitive background score, the film will appeal to kids and adults alike. It is engaging and entertaining at the same time.