Penguins of Madagascar (U, 92 mins)

A bird-brained adventure

Penguins of Madagascar
Penguins of Madagascar

Birds of a feather somersault, karate kick and bicker together in Eric Darnell and Simon J Smith’s misfiring computer-animated spin-off from the Madagascar films.

Frenetic and fast-paced, Penguins Of Madagascar initially sketches the back story of the four plucky Antarctic critters with a beak for adventure through the lens of a documentary film crew keen to observe the flightless birds in their treacherous natural habitat.

The script soon fast-forwards to the conclusion of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and literally blasts the penguins into an outlandish spy caper replete with a menagerie of animal co-stars that should be a merchandiser’s dream this Christmas.

The colour-saturated animation is a feast for the eyes and there are a few neat visual gags such as the penguins’ novel approach to navigating a zebra crossing undetected.

But the four lead characters, who are boundlessly charming in small doses as sidekicks, grate slightly as heroes of their own half-baked story.

Hopefully the adorable Minions from the Despicable Me series will dodge a similar fate when they graduate to the limelight in a self-titled feature next summer.