'The Penguins of Madagascar' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich Face Off (Video)

The beloved penguins are back in a spinoff from DreamWorks Animation's hit "Madagascar" film trilogy.

Espionage is strictly for the birds in The Penguins of Madagascar, a spin-off of the popular Madagascar film trilogy. 

In the first trailer for the theatrical film, a stealthy wolf (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) enlists four wacky penguins -- Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private -- to assist his elite spy unit in bringing down evil octopus Dr. Octavius Brine (voiced by John Malkovich).

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The penguins try their best to help the cause but often find themselves in over their heads. "I kind of got caught up in the moment," Skipper exclaims nonchalantly after absent-mindedly ejecting himself and his three feathered pals from an airplane without a parachute. "Well, hindsight is 20-20."

The film -- reminiscent of Peter Sellers' Pink Panther film series -- was co-directed by Simon J. Smith (Bee Movie) and Eric Darnell (Madagascar, Antz) from a script by Michael Colton and John Aboud

The penguins were first seen in 2005's Madagascar and returned for more hijinks in 2008's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and 2012's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. The penguins have also been featured on the Nickelodeon show The Penguins of Madagascar since 2008.

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The film is produced by DreamWorks Animation, and 20th Century Fox is releasing it Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving. The film had originally been scheduled for release on March 27, 2015, but it recently traded dates with fellow DreamWorks Animation film Home.

DreamWorks is presumably hoping the film is better received by critics than Pixar's similarly spy-centric 2011 film Cars 2, which did brisk box-office business but earned lackluster reviews. DreamWorks also has high hopes for this weekend's How to Train Your Dragon 2 following this spring's underperforming Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Email: RyanGajewski@pgmedia.org
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski