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Or: a lesson in creative bankruptcy.

For starters, there is a certain sadness about a third installment. Your initial film establishes the idea. If it's a hit, well, then you go for a sequel, and in so doing, hopefully expand upon what the the first film started. Do things that are possible only now that the characters are familiar. But the third? That's where you make it clear that this is a franchise, not an idea. The point is no longer the characters. The point is the familiarity. See also: Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. And for that rarest of exceptions, apparently, see Toy Story 3.

So yeah: from this trailer, it doesn't look like the characters are going anywhere, except maybe locally - that is, the characters don't change, the locale does. Specifically, it shifts to Europe.

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You know, sort of like another recent animated sequel, one that partook of its own heaping helping of creative crapulence:

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Once there, we get vaguely James Bond-y espionage actvitity...

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Oh, and European-accented rivals:

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Again, sigh. It's all too derivative for words. THAT SAID, points to the trailer for Madagascar 3 for not including any toilet jokes in its trailer. (Depending on which one you watch, I think the trailer for Cars 2 may serve up as many as five: Mater getting a bidet wash, Mater going into a ladies' room, a car flying into an septic truck...I'm too depressed to go back and check the others.) Also, Madagascar serves up, with just a couple of days remaining in the year, the most insane image of 2011:

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I think The Big Screen just found its mascot.

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