In honour of Shreks saga coming to an end this week,we bring you some of our favourite animated wonders: a panda who wants to learn kung fu,a bunch of wild beasties who sail away to dark Africa,a shark who cannot kill and,of course,our jolliest,greenest monster,all set to be a pop.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa reunites us with all the animals of the first part,in which they break out of the Bronx zoo to reclaim their lives. In the second part,they fetch up on an island off the coast of Africa,and fall into adventure again. The funniest part about the film,just like in the previous one,is the contrast between the citified,gentrified creatures who need toilet paper to wipe their behinds,and the real animals,who live rough. Alex the lion,Marty the zebra,Melman the giraffe,Gloria the hippo are all back,and all are gung-ho to live the real life,but in the end,which is of course a happy one,both sets of critters live and learn.
Shark Tale is a terrific re-creation of an underwater world where on top of the pile are the fearsome sharks,and the lowest are those that clean the tongues of whales: in between are plankton and other kinds of fishy fish. Broadcasters alert residents of a shark attack,and when they are safely out of range,every kind of fish comes dancing out. About to break this happy hierarchy is a shark named Lenny who is a kind,gentle soul. He will not kill. In a hilarious scene,Lenny is at a meal in a restaurant with his dad Don Lino and his brother Frankie: he frees a bunch of wriggling shrimp (meant to be their appetisers) into the ocean,and earns the wrath of his mobster father. Adults will not miss the smart Godfather references (Don Lino is voiced by Robert De Niro; Martin Scorseses voice also has a role in the movie). But you dont need any referencing to be entranced by this jewel-like world created by the wizards at Dreamworks.
Kung Fu Panda is about a roly-poly panda called Po who dreams of being a kung fu expert. His father serves the slurpiest noodles in ancient China,but Po has no interest in cooking and ladling and serving. All he wants is to kick and punch just like the great martial arts expert Shifu,who opens up a whole new world for Po by anointing him as the Dragon Warrior,who will sally forth and slay the ruthless Tai Lung. Kung Fu Panda is one of the best,most engaging animation films ever made,and worthy of endless re-runs.
And theres Shrek,in his third instalment,who fights the combined might of Prince Charming and all the bad fairy-tale characters to save the kingdom of Far Far Away. Hes also on a quest to find the rightful heir to the throne Arthur. The boy doesnt want to have anything to do with thrones and crowns,but he has no way to ward off the charms of Shrek,just like the rest of us. The rest is all fun and games.