Penguins of Madagascar - Revenge is best served cold - 2.25 stars

We see it happen all the time, studios milking a franchise for all its worth. The production team of Madagascar seem to be short of original ideas with the release of Penguins. 

Walking into the cinema...
With few choices for children this Christmas holiday season, we were looking for a film for the youngest members of the family. 

Overall rating: 2 stars
Cinematic value: 2 stars        Family value: 3 stars 

     Did you know that there was a conspiracy against penguins? They are cute and they draw the crowds at animal parks all over the world. Dr. Octavius Brine (

) seems to have a vendetta against these cute, flightless birds and the familiar feathered team from Madagascar must save the penguins of the world. Skipper (), Kowalski (), Rico () and Private () are given their opportunity to fly on their own in this long running series. The story begins with the historical journey of the four monochromatic friends and their eventual involvement with the rest of the characters in the franchise. Through a series of espionage-style events, they are reacquainted with the villain. The penguins are the centrepiece of the story of revenge and have to figure out how to escape from Dr. Brine and stop his plans. They reluctantly join forces with the undercover organisation, The North Wind. Led by James Bond-esque Agent Classified (), the two teams battle for opportunities to defeat Dr. Brine's plan.
      Directors  and  have been on the Madagascar production team for most of the series. They know the value of good characters and have done their best to capitalise on these clever talking animals. The biggest problem of the film is the role of the penguins, they are the comic relief and story filler for the first three films. Just like their colouring, their characters are two-dimensional at best. They are funny at times, but they lack depth to carry a full length feature film. The story is not objectionable and has endearing moments of friendship and family, but lacks any layered nuances for the sake of the story. The Madagascar scripts have moved to the point of ridiculous, but this storyline seems to be a bit of a retread of other films. The penguins work from the Get Smart playbook, the primary revenge plot was seen last year in Despicable Me 2 and the animation was reminiscent of Monsters vs. Aliens. This film is like looking at a copy of a copy of the other stories and comes off as tired and unoriginal. 
     This film was written and designed for children under 10 years of age. In recent cinematic history, animated film makers have been attempting to make films that appeal to adults and children. Going for jokes and subtle nuances that allow the parents to enjoy the film on a different level than the child. This does not happen in Penguins, there is no subtly in this latest instalment of Madagascar. Unfortunately, there are not too many options out there for family entertainment. Penguins of Madagascar can be fun at times and is a safe choice for families this Christmas season.  

Leaving the cinema...
This is one of my shortest reviews, which is not a play on the vertical stature of the penguins. There is not much to be said about this film. My nine-year old daughter thought the film was funny, but not her favourite. My 16 year old son picked apart all of the plot points and I struggled to stay awake throughout the film. The Penguins of Madagascar was supposed to be a 'wild' ride, but merely became the 'safe' choice this Christmas season. 

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. Is the God of the Bible a God of justice? (Psalm 37: 27-29, Romans 12:19)
2. Is revenge sweet? (Leviticus 19:18, Romans 12:19)
3. Should they make another Madagascar spin-off? (Ephesians 5:11)

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews