Book Review: The Art of Madagascar 3
This is the latest coffee-table “making of” art book to document a DreamWorks Animation CGI theatrical feature, to be released theatrically on June 8, about three weeks after this book’s publication. To write the text, DreamWorks has recruited Barbara Robertson, a contributing editor for Computer Graphics World who has received numerous awards including the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award and the Society of Technical Communications’ Award of Excellence. Chris Rock, the voice of Marty the zebra, wrote the brief foreword.
As Insight Editions had full access to the totality of the crew's production graphics while the Madagascar 3 fantasy-comedy was being produced (in 3D), The Art of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is extremely comprehensive in its graphics presentation, printed in a large 11” x 10” format in full color. There are close-ups of all the main characters: the now-familiar Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippopotamus, and Melman the giraffe, as well as the new characters created for this installment; the circus animals Vitaly the Siberian tiger, Gia the jaguar, and Stefano the sea lion, plus their human nemesis, Captain Chantel Dubois, the ruthless Monte Carlo animal-control officer. The old and new supporting cast; the four uncontrollable penguins and two chimpanzees, plus King Julien XIII and his lemurs, Mort the mouse lemur and Maurice the aye-aye, and Dubois’ army of animal-control agents and the supporting circus animals such as Sonya the bear, the three performing horse sisters, and the geriatric elephants are covered as well. There is production art galore: model sheets, lush background paintings, character and setting VFX art, stereo 3D, lighting, and more (each graphic is signed), with knowledgeable commentary by the production staff such as director Eric Darnell, production designer Kendal Cronkhite, head of story Rob Koo, and head of layout Nol Meyer. Especially interesting are the preliminary designs of the new characters. Chantel Dubois in particular was considered in a variety of guises from an older to a younger, less attractive to more attractive, woman before her appearance in the film was settled upon.
Through the mostly-chronological procession of production art, the film’s story is told. Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman have escaped from New York’s Central Park Zoo (with the penguins and chimps) to find their African roots, and end up in Madagascar by mistake, in Madagascar (2005). Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008) brought them (with the penguins and chimps, plus the Madagascan lemurs) to the African mainland, where they were all disappointed by their “roots” and wanted to return to the New York Zoo. In Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the Zoosters travel from Africa to Monte Carlo where the penguins and chimps have gone, to use their patched-together airplane to fly back to New York. But the plane is hopelessly wrecked, and the “wild animals” in swank Monte Carlo come to the attention of its animal-control officer, a frustrated Big Game Hunter-wannabe who seizes upon their capture or killing as her golden opportunity. To escape, the African quartet poses as circus animals to join a ramshackle traveling circus passing through Monaco on its way to, ultimately, New York.