SDCC 2014: 'Penguins of Madagascar' & 'Home' Pack Hall H

Friday, 25 July 2014 07:28 Written by  iamrogue
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SDCC 2014: 'Penguins of Madagascar' & 'Home' Pack Hall H

Hall H, the largest venue at the San Diego Convention Center, is sometimes called "Hall Hell" on account of long lines, squeaky chairs, and stale hot dogs.

When DreamWorks Animation took over the cavernous space for its presentation on Thursday, however, Hall H was downright heavenly for fans of animated comedy.

One of the biggest names in feature animation showcased Home, a rollicking scifi original, and Penguins of Madagascar, a globe-trotting spinoff.

The presentation was moderated by Craig Ferguson, The Late Late Show host and voice of Gobber in the How to Train Your Dragon series.  The Home panel kicked off the afternoon, introducing the excited crowd to the Broov.

The Broov are a species of highly confident purple aliens in search of a new homeworld.  When they find one in Earth, the Broov promptly relocate humanity and get to work rejiggering the planet, removing everything that doesn't fit their style.  When one resourceful human manages to avoid the Broov, she must team with an outcast extraterrestrial for a wild trip in which the unlikely duo attempt to make Earth safe for people and Broov alike.

After showing the Home trailer, Ferguson introduced director Tim Johnson (Over the Hedge), who was joined by Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).

Parsons's character, the outcast Broov, is named Oh, on account of the sighs that always accompany his entrance to a room.  Neither Rihanna (Battleship) nor Steve Martin (It's Complicated), who voice the human heroine Gratuity "Tip" Tucci and the Broov villain Captain Smek, respectively, were in attendance.  Not that Parsons or Ferguson needed them as the duo riffed on having had to audition for their voice roles.  Parsons revealed that he was approached for Home two and a half years ago.

The Emmy-winning sitcom star discussed the surreality of voice acting, saying that it was like performing a vacuum since he only recorded one session with Rihanna and two with Martin.  As such, he relied upon Johnson to guide his performance. 

From there, the panel showed off actual footage from Home.  The Broov have made the Eiffel Tower, which they call "The Great Antenna," into their headquarters on Earth.  Thanks to their ability to manipulate gravity, though, the Tower floats above Paris, along with odd clusters of random objects.  Having sneaked inside, Oh is about to be killed by Smek and security forces as a result of his constant screw-ups.  Tip gets her hands on a gravity sphere and saves Oh by tipping the whole structure.

And just like that, a chase over, around, and through Paris is on, with the elasticity of gravity making for a breakneck action sequence filled with visual wit, genuine thrills, colorful design, and real ambition.  It was a persuasive scene, one that has IAR awaiting the release of Home on March 27, 2015.

After a brief display of some props from next summer's B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, the presentation moved on to the panel for Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins were introduced in 2005's Madagascar and continued to steal scenes through two sequels, and now they're getting their own adventure, one that takes its cues from the espionage adventures of James Bond and the like, but with a comedic flair of course.  The story finds the quartet of hyper-competent penguins as they join forces with a secret agent wolf to battle a villainous octopus.

Co-directors Eric Darnell (Madagascar) and Simon J. Smith (Bee Movie) were joined onstage by Tom McGrath.  McGrath, the Madagascar series co-director who voices Skipper, revealed that his original choice for Skipper was Robert Stack, but the actor passed away when the first movie was in production.  He also pointed out that the Penguins were very nearly cut from the first film, yet they've gone on to star in their own movie and a TV series, which exists in an "alternate reality" while Penguins of Madagascar is more a direct sequel to Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

After revealing that Penguins is about 70% complete, the filmmakers introduced John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich), the voice of Dave, the nefarious octopus who holds a grudge against the titular penguins because during their time in a zoo, the Antarctic critters hogged all the attention with their cuteness.  The actor said that being offered a role as an octopus "seemed like such a no-brainer.”

The crowd went nuts as Con-favorite Benedict Cumberbatch took the stage to discuss his character, an arctic wolf known as "Classified" who works for "North Wind," a spy agency comprised of cold-weather animals. Cumberbatch dominated the Q&A session with the audience, kicking up lots of nerd dust with his teasing response to a roundabout Doctor Strange question.

A series of clips played throughout the panel, and DreamWorks have helpfully supplied one such clip, along with the first poster for Penguins of Madagascar.  The panel capped off with a rough assembly of the first six minutes of the film, however, and in doing so showed off a pretty tremendous cameo.  If you want to avoid the SPOILER, don't continue scrolling past this clip:

The opening of Penguins of Madagascar functions as an origin story for Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, and Private, introducing the quartet in their native Antarctica.  The scene involves an important cameo from an animated Werner Herzog, the world-famous documentarian filming Encounters at the End of the World.  The four penguins are already oddballs in penguin society, as they're willing to break with social norms.  When they see a wayward egg, for example, they break ranks to save it, only to end up on an iceberg with a 95% chance of death, according to Kowalski.

The Penguins of Madagascar don't meet their end on an ice float, however.  They'll be saving the world in theaters on November 14, 2014.

Check out the new teaser poster:

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