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Madagascar is Crap

Yesterday, Carey and I went to watch Madagascar. The movie was fine (the half hour of commercials and previews were not), but what really struck me was just how ordinary the movie was. Particularly compared to Pixar movies.

The quickie list Carey and I came up with included:

  • Pixar is content to let a fish look and act like a fish. In Madagascar, the darn lion had more human-like moves than most humans. The faces of the animals looked quite human and they certainly walked and behaved like humans. Even the stupid Donkey in Shrek acts like a donkey for the most part.
  • What the hell was the plot? I don't think there was one. "Animals get sent to live in the wild"? Sorry, that's not a plot. That's an excuse to steal money from parents and to make promotional tie-ins with Burger King or whomever.
  • There was no lesson to be learned. None. I don't believe every movie should teach you something meaningful, but I do believe that most movies aimed at kids try to do this. Madagascar did not.
  • The penguins - what the heck was the point? I think they had one purpose: filler. Yes, the 64-minute movie needed 10 minutes of penguins scenes to break the hour mark. Why? Again, no plot.
  • Lions don't eat sushi. Period. The writers backed themselves into a corner using a lion as one of the main characters and snuck their way out of it by lying to children about the way of the world (despite a brief montage in which several animals, including a cute little fuzzy duckling, are eaten alive).
  • Not even the jokes were good. Children's movies often include lots of jokes for the parents. In Pixar movies, the jokes are plentiful and require some thought. In Madagascar, most of the jokes seemed to involve characters quoting other movies. "Getting" the jokes in Madagascar required absolutely no thought.

In other words, Madagascar is a terrible movie. Absolutely terrible. If Pixar movies are a 10 and Shrek is a 6, this movie rates a solid 2 at best.

12 Responses to "Madagascar is Crap"

  1. I haven't seen Madagascar (and don't plan to). I think that Disney is really making a mistake switching over to Dreamworks. Just looking at the animation, you see how much different the two studios are. Pixar takes an amazing approach of making software to simulate physical conditions in a scene...where Dreamworks just puts a bunch of artists at a computer. I doubt that Disney will stop making money with their movies, but they will definitely suck.

  2. I liked the work of the "PDI" folks at Dreamworks (Antz, Shrek/Shrek 2) better than Pixar, but it looks like Dreamworks' other studios are churning out stuff that's pretty bland (I haven't seen Madagascar, or Shark Tale for that matter, but none of them looked too good in the trailers).

  3. Disney is not switching over to Dreamworks are they? They are taking CGI character animation in house, chicken little isn't farmed out. Expect story on the level of their TV live action fare.

    Pixar is story first, but I think they may have a blowout with Cars. You could even fault the Incredibles if you wanted to... they swiped the plot of The Watchmen and the Fantastic Four to the degree that the fantastic Four movie had to reshoot their ending. And Pixar is in SEC hot water, apparently due to having a bad quarter due to high returns and poor DVD sales of the Incredibles... did they fudge the books on that? I think it really DID sell badly relative to the push they gave it... too many units were made. It really sold just fine, they just had hopes too high.

  4. i dont bother watching anything other than pixar; at least until it comes out to rent, and even then i hardly ever watch non-pixar animations. they just never stack up. (though if one looks interesting i'll see it.)

  5. I believe the people who made Madagascar also made Shrek, and I didn't like either.

  6. Oops, you're right. It is PDI...hmm. Well, I'll have to see it and see what I think, but I'm not holding my breath. Darn.

  7. From a friend, who asked me to post this anonymously. So I'll just post it as myself:

    Disney is not switching over to Dreamworks are they? They are taking CGI character animation in house, chicken little isn't farmed out.

    Disney is not teaming with Dreamworks (or at least no plans or talks have been announced). For Chicken Little, they basically developed the story themselves and then gave it to a CG house to build. They are also setting up their own lab, called Circle 7 Animation (http://www.jimhillmedia.com/mb/articles/showarticle.php?ID=1582) which is also known in the industry as "The Sequel Lab" or "Pixaren't." This department's sole mission will be to make sequels to Pixar films. However, part of any new deal with Pixar would be Disney killing these projects, and judging from their hiring page, my guess is they just have a small core of people doing development on these films in case Pixar goes elsewhere, and otherwise they're setting up a pipeline to make their own movies.

    Pixar is story first, but I think they may have a blowout with Cars.

    And what do you base this on? A brief teaser trailer shown almost a year ago? Cars is a John Lasseter movie, and John is an amazing storyteller. The movie is absolutely beautiful (take a look at the images in http://www.vidimce.org/publications/lpics/), too. Perhaps you should wait to see the movie before making a judgement? If it's any consolation, Michael Eisner said the same thing about Nemo. Although he said it after he saw it and before it made more money than Lion King.

    You could even fault the Incredibles if you wanted to… they swiped the plot of The Watchmen and the Fantastic Four to the degree that the Fantastic Four movie had to reshoot their ending.

    What? You have no idea what you're talking about. Fox had originally planned on releasing FF in 2004, but the studio execs knew the movie was crap and wouldn't compete with the Incredibles, and they delayed it. FF is another example of lots of marketing money being spent for a blowout opening weekend on a crappy movie so that the studio could reclaim its costs on the movie, and perhaps make money in subsequent showings. As far as Pixar goes, if you watch the extras on the DVD, you'll learn Brad had the idea for Incredibles floating around for years and years. When he came to Pixar, he knew exactly the movie he wanted to make. I'm sure some of his general ideas came from other movies, but things like what superpowers the family has were his idea. For instance, teenage boys are hyperactive, hence Dash, and moms are stretched in all directions, hence Elastigirl.

    And Pixar is in SEC hot water, apparently due to having a bad quarter due to high returns and poor DVD sales of the Incredibles… did they fudge the books on that?

    Oh bullshit. Did you see what Dreamworks Animation did last quarter? Keep saying everything is fine and then release poor earnings due to lower DVD sales. Pixar, wanting to avoid a similar situation, put out a press release saying sales were going to be $6 million lower than expectations. Pixar has almost $1 billion in the bank, and to avoid a situation similar to DWA, notified investors of a $6 million dollar difference. The SEC informal inquiry is a natural response, and they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't file one, especially given how DWA fucked their investors last quarter.

    I think it really DID sell badly relative to the push they gave it…

    It sold Incredibly (haha) well. It's been the best-selling DVD of at least 2004, and I think at least the first quarter of 05 too. Would you like to guess how many units the Toy Story re-release is going to sell? Yeah, a little hard, isn't it?

    Please do some research before you put up a post like this, and not your own rants.

    On a different note, about Madagascar, I had some friends who worked on it. DWA rushed it as much as possible (Pixar films take 4+ years from start to finish, and Madagascar took 2), and it actually evolved from a movie idea about penguins (there was even an idea that would have the Beatles as penguins). Very little is simulated/fx, and the lighting is very simple. It's missing reflections in many objects, for instance. Sadly, this is another example of a studio making a bad CG movie and figuring people will see it anyway. And sadly, they do.

  8. Dudes...The Incredibles was the best movie of last year hands down...

    I guess Disney is just making movies like Chicken Little in house. I think the animation on everything but Pixar films just sucks. Give me the Pepsi challenge any day and I'll always pick out the Pixar movie.

  9. Sadly, this is another example of a studio making a bad CG movie and figuring people will see it anyway. And sadly, they do.

    FWIW, to my friend, we paid only $3 to see it at the dollar theater. We specifically waited until it was there because we knew it was not worth any more than that. Having seen it, I have a hard time believing it was worth even three bucks.

  10. Erik, I wouldn't have even mentioned the SEC stuff, and the FF refilming their ending stuff, if I had not read it elsewhere myself. Sorry it upset you; I passed it on, but I didn't really agree with it either; I think it ridiculous too, as I did when I read it. So I (or rather, what I posted) stands corrected. Bash away! I don't disagree with a thing you said.

    I think what I read (Pixar reporting bad quarter due to lower than expected sales of Incredibles DVD) might stand up to a cursory fact check, and I thought the SEC getting involved, well, incredible. If that was so. Certainly seems to be a bit much. And maybe it was passed along on some gossipy blog somewhere, or someone was being sarcastic and I paid no heed.

  11. Madagascar was disappointing. Not terrible, but disappointing. The plot was pretty thin, and while it had funny moments, it wasn't consistently funny.

    Yeah, it was obviously rushed. That was clear just from the ads. But I went and saw it anyway because it looked OK. And it was OK.. just not particularly good.

    In the ads the penguins were pretty funny. In the movie.. well, they were barely even there. I thought the movie might have been better with more penguins.

  12. Bud, once again, I posted for my friend. They're not my arguments, but I can assure you that my friend knows what he's talking about.

    Passing along "information" without any thought about whether it was credible or not is dumb. Please refrain from doing so in the future, eh? 😛


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