Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Animation / Comedy
DreamWorks Animation || PG - 89 minutes - $39.99 || February 6, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-02-10


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Writer(s): Etan Cohen (written by)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin


Theatrical Release Date: November 7, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • The Animators' Corner (BD Exclusive)
  • Trivia Track (BD Exclusive)
  • 6 Featurettes
  • The Penguins of Madagascar
  • MAD Music
  • Test Flight of Air Penguin Game
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Those crazy New York Zoo animals – Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo – are back! After getting stranded in Madagascar, they manage to escape, with the help of four wise-cracking penguins, only to crash land in Africa. After a run-in with some New Yorker tourists, including the “Old Lady” from the original, they discover their own roots, especially Alex who is reunited with his mother and father, Zuba (voiced by the late Bernie Mac). Zuba is the pack leader whose arch-enemy, Makunga (Alec Baldwin) seizes the opportunity to embarrass Zuba and take control.

Madagascar 2 isn’t, even for an animated movie, a brain-taxing movie; in fact it’s probably better than the original... funnier at least. At a brisk 85-minutes (not including end credits), this sequel fulfills what every animated film should and that is be funny for both children and adults. I found myself laughing several times throughout and even though some scenes do get a little sappy (you know, in that Disney storybook kind of way), it’s doesn’t go too far. And actually the plot isn’t as obvious as I had assumed from the onset — a prologue showing how Alex arrived to New York after having been taken by poachers — so just for that it makes this a winner...

The voice acting is solid with your usual line-up of stars, well Ben Stiller at least, with others like Chris Rock (sorry, I don’t consider him an A-lister), Jada Pinkett-Smith and David Schwimmer all doing great work with their characters. And with the addition of Bernie Mac as the papa lion, Alec Baldwin as the baddie lion and those four wisecracking penguins (who are also getting their own show on Nickelodeon aptly entitled “The Penguins of Madagascar”), plus the return of Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, of course, is not in the same league as other animated movies, especially in the Pixar line or even DreamWorks’ own Shrek, but it’s enjoyable and the animation style, while not fantastic, is probably perfect for the story. On a side note about animation, unless the style is absolutely terrible and/or ugly, so long as the story delivers, I could care less so I won’t bother making much of a comparison with the likes of Wall-E, but even though Wall-E was a better looking animated movie, I think I actually enjoyed Madagascar 2 a little more, if only for the light, breezy story. Not saying this is a better movie per se, just different.

Anyway, I found that as far as animated movies go, Madagascar 2 was actually pretty decent. It has plenty of jokes for the adults and with those colorful animals; kids will still find them funny (even if they don’t understand it). If you enjoyed the original then I think you couldn’t go wrong giving the sequel a try.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Feature Commentary – This track features co-directors/co-writers Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath and producers Mireille Soria and Mark Swift. The track will bore kids but some adults may find it interesting if not for some bits of trivia. For a movie with this cast, the addition of one or two cast members would’ve been great.

The Animators’ Corner – Wish I had realized this was a picture-in-picture commentary before just listening to the audio track described above, but oh well. Anyway, the four participants are shown in a large corner box talking to each other. The PiP box also once in a while shows some behind-the-scenes footage or early concept drawings. Most of it is contained in the featurettes but it’s nice to watch them here. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Trivia Track – This is just a basic pop-up track to learn some other info about the film or general topics. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

It’s a Family Affair: The Cast of Escape 2 Africa (9:10) is a general introduction (or re-introduction) to the cast of voice actors with some video from the recording booth as the actors record their sessions.

The Making of Escape 2 Africa (11:02) goes over how the sequel came to be from coming up with a good story to researching the climate/horizons of the continent and animating it all. It’s actually an interesting featurette mainly because I don’t normally see the process of making an animated movie.

There are a few subject specific featurettes: The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar (8:14) is basically a tour of the zoo’s latest exhibit, taking a look at the various animals native to Madagascar; Crash Landing (3:37) covers the, well, crash landing sequence of the film, especially animating it; African Adventure (7:16) finds the crew going to Africa for research and coming up with stories surrounding it; last is Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak (1:14) where you can learn Swahili.

The Penguins of Madagascar (24:11) – Also available as part of the DVD 2-pack, there are two episodes (or shorts), not sure if this is a preview of the show (the promos don’t match this style of animation). These are fun episodes but obviously aimed much more towards kids but I guess parents could watch too since it seems the Penguins are actually more popular than the main characters.

Under Mad Music are 3 Music Videos (“Move It, Move It”, “Big and Chunky” and “She Loves Me”), a Sing Along to “Traveling Song” and DreamWorks Animation Jukebox.

BD-Live – The only feature on DreamWorks’ BD-Live site is a short documentary called “The Heart of a Lion” (11:58). This is also available on The Penguins of Madagascar DVD that comes with the Madagascar 2 DVD release. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** if only for the BD-Live availability.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

From the main characters introduction shots of their swaying butts to the beat of “I Like to Move It”, a song I understand parents probably loath by this point, to the vast animated landscape of Africa, Madagascar 2 looks great in high-definition. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio (1.85) and in 1080p HD.

The Blu-ray features a nice Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that gets the job done, but offers little else. This isn’t a bad audio experience mind you, but nothing out of the ordinary either. I didn’t notice much from my rear speakers but the front and center got plenty of use as did my subwoofer (a little anyway).



.::OVERALL::.

Madagascar 2 may not be in the same league as even Pixar’s weakest features, but as far as animated movies go, it’s pretty entertaining. With an OK, but cohesive story, and some funny jokes and voice talents, it makes this a worthwhile purchase; especially if you have kids as this is something even adults can sit through.