Strange as it may sound if you're not used to thinking of movies in a curriculum context, ala film school, this cartoon deserves doing some homework first.
The Madagascar franchise is already well evolved, and this narrative follows an off shoot: the special ops team of penguins, so endearing in the earlier episodes.
Ideas come quickly at high bandwidth, fighting boredom all the way (I was never bored); ideas about physics, about relationships, and about human (or octopus) motivations.
The villain feels royally dissed that all the zoo patrons coo over penguins and not him. His revenge: "monsterize" penguins. The giant ray gun, a staple of villain cartoons, is playing the usual role.
Another special ops team appears on the scene, somewhat modeling the so-called "special relationship" between the US and UK.
The US broke off from the UK at a high management level, as well as in the rank and file, and the two cultures still have a lot of the same attitudes toward what "special ops" looks like (ala James Bond, though I didn't catch that many direct references to this Ian Flemming character).
Seeing Penguins of Madagascar and Big Hero 6 both on the same day, with a few hours in between (enough time to visit Yard House for dinner, bus home, come back with the car), made for some interesting thinking.
John Malkovich plays a great villain, bravo.
Note closing credits: they get it right with the hexagons as connoting high tech.
By 2014 we have successfully migrated from the right angled XYZ look to the more futuristic / organic IVM look, when it comes to connoting high technology. Graphene is where it's at.
When buying two 3D movie tickets at once (the 2nd for Big Hero 6 at 9:50 PM) for like $29, I mentioned something about breaking the bank. The ticket lady said she didn't mean to be rude but if I were age 60 or greater I could claim a discount.
Although I have the requisite white hair, I wasn't sure if she'd card me so demurred: "I couldn't prove it" I said, "but I'll be 60 soon though, and then I can watch all the cartoons I want!". The guy behind me thought that was funny. Me too.