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Soundtrack review: The penguins of Madagascar (Lorne Balfe – 2014)

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Soundtrack review: The penguins of Madagascar (Lorne Balfe – 2014)



Besides hours of fun, the Madagascar animation franchise brought a few characters who really took off. The most notable are the four penguins, the secret agents, and the smooth operators in the zoo…“just smile and wave, boys”. They became so popular that they got their own show outside the movies and now, even their own movie, “The penguins of Madagascar”. The score was written by frequent Hans Zimmer collaborator and a guy whose name I see on many of my favorite scores, Lorne Balfe.

So the first cue…hey, where is everyone? What? Everyone’s left their chairs and is off somewhere on the roof, dancing to this jazzy fox trot like main theme. This theme is infectious, groovy, fun, a classic already. OK, I get it…Now come back and let’s settle down because Antarctica changes the mood a bit. First thing I notice is the track names…As Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard did on “Batman begins”, here tracks have a Latin penguin species name.

As far as animation movie scores go, this is one of the best of the year! There’s that infectious theme, we got the action cues, the adventure ones, a great theme like “Private’s theme” and a big bad, James Bond like cue in “Chrysocome”. Actually, there’s a spy movie vibe throughout this entire score, and the fun never stops. Even the main vocal theme “He is Dave” is pure James Bond. The orchestra and big band go all out to entertain us, and I find myself laughing and grooving all the way to the end.

“The Penguins of Madagascar” is a winner. This score is magic, and since I’m sure everyone will at some point watch this movie with their kids, don’t worry: you’ll be as entertained as them. Lorne Balfe wrote one of the most fun scores of the year. He nailed what the characters are about. I can see smoke rising from the big band’s instruments. And when the smoke clears, I see the orchestra that delivered sweeping cues like “Humbolti”…

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 35 / 52

Album excellence: 67%


The Penguins Of Madagascar




Private’s Theme







He Is Dave

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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