madagascar 3
The circus comes to town: Madagascar 3

When Jessica Chastain wanders on to the stage to collect her Academy Award it won't - unsurprisingly - be for her role as a circus jaguar in this animated sequel. That the DreamWorks Madagascar franchise can land such acting talent as the Zero Dark Thirty star and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston - the latter playing a gruff Russian tiger - shows how popular it remains three films in.

Alongside those newcomers, this threequel also sees the return of Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), Skipper the penguin leader (Tom McGrath) and king of the lemurs Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen).

Third time is mostly a charm for these animals lost at sea, especially as it was at this point that the Shrek franchise started to feel a little creaky. New adventures also bring new destinations and having already taken in Madagascar and continental Africa the group visits Monte Carlo, Rome and London, as they dream of returning to their lives in the New York Central Park Zoo.

The story rattles along at breakneck speed, the obsessive pursuit across Europe by Frances McDormand's animal control officer pushing the plot along when it starts to lag. Having the gang join up with a travelling circus also provides for plenty of grandstanding and excellent animation - the pinnacle being a psychedelic performance that lights up the sky.

Most of the DVD bonus features are unlikely to bother all but the most curious children, with many of them breaking the fourth wall and revealing how the film is made. Footage of the actors recording their dialogue is accompanied by the sound of backslapping. The voice commentary includes many interesting factoids but is still just three men chatting over the action and deleted scenes.

Two extra features may actually cause parents some grief: the 20-minute preview of a live stage show based on DreamWorks' animated movie, How to Train Your Dragon, will have kids pleading for tickets; while a one-minute mashup of musical bits from Madagascar 3 will grate after it's been chosen again and again on repeat.

Better to stick to the main feature and let its great soundtrack (Katie Perry providing the fireworks and Hanz Zimmer working on the incidentals) wash over you. If nothing else, you can dream about that European trip you want to take.


Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is out on DVD and triple-play Blu-ray