As franchises grow and remain successful, spinoffs are almost always inevitable, especially if there’s an interesting character(s) to base off of. The quality of spinoffs varies, some of the better including “Annabelle” and “Machete,” some of the worst including “Planes” and “Get Him to the Greek.”
DreamWorks’s latest release, “Penguins of Madagascar,” is an example of a spinoff that works. The characters were already spun off previous to the film in their own TV show, which took place sometime after the original film at the New York Zoo.
The newest entry into the penguins adventure sees the four in their origin story at the beginning of the film, which quickly transitions into their events after the latest Madagascar film.
The four are forced to go up against an enemy from the past, which none of them happen to remember, and contend with a secret agency made of up animals known as the North Wind. The villain, Dave the octopus, plans to exact revenge on every penguin in the world for being so cute that they drew attention away from him.
The plot is the perfect setup for an abundance of explosions, adventure, and bright colors to entertain younger children, but it also brings a lot of heart, clever jokes, and wonderful animation to entertain everyone else.
One of the greatest running gags in the film is how Dave’s octopi minions, whenever called upon, are a combination of an order and reference to an actor.
For example, the first instance is when the audience first meets Dave, and he orders his minion Nicolas to cage the penguins (Nicolas Cage), or when the penguins are fighting back in the big climax, he orders Hugh and Jack to man their stations (Hugh Jackman), and also he orders Kevin to bake on, as Dave would like a cake afterwards (Kevin Bacon).
The voice cast is fantastic, the voices of the four penguins, Tom McGrath (Skipper), Chris Miller (Kowalski), Conrad Vernon (Rico), and Christopher Knights (Private) continue to bring incredible wit and style to their characters.
The supporting cast members do a fantastic job as well, Malkovich being his usual evil self, Jeong bringing his usual funny voice talents to Cumberbatch’s typical clever characters.
Overall, “Penguins of Madagascar” is a very funny, fairly clever, greatly animated family adventure that gives the penguins the solo movie treatment they deserve.