After the success of Madagascar, releasing a sequel was a given for DreamWorks. But the studio went that extra step and created another gem of an animated film with Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. While M2 follows a similar formula to the the first, featuring Alex the Lion (Ben Stiler), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), going on an adventure that’s far beyond their capabilities, you still care deeply about the hapless quartet. Madagascar 2 creates genuine moments of laughter and touching nods to the nature of spirit and determination.
In the new film, the unlikely team have their eyes set on a return to New York in a jet repaired by the famous Penguins. Of course they don’t get back to NYC and wind up deserted in the African wilderness instead. Little does Alex know that he’s about to stumble upon his roots, winding up in the kingdom of his father – King Zuba the alpha lion. Dramedy ensues when a rival lion (voiced by Alec Baldwin) has Zuba, his wife and Alex banished from the kingdom. What’s worse, their land is threatened when the entire water supply is put in jeopardy. A light and enjoyable adventure ensues that makes this sequel well worth watching.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa greatly improves on a good thing, adding sharper wit, better character development and incredibly rendered landscapes. Alec Baldwin, Sasha Baron Cohen and the Penguins especially kept me in stitches.
Generally, computer generated 3D animation looks excellent in HD and Madagascar 2 is no exception. The Blu-ray is presented in 1080P HD video, along with English 5.1 Dolby True HD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH+, French and Spanish subtitles.
The special features are just as remarkable with a thorough and interesting variety of extras that has something for both kids and adults. There are the usual commentaries and behind-the-scenes cast interviews, but there are a bus load of videos and games for the kids to interact with.
Those interested in the making of Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa, will enjoy The Animators’ Corner (HD), which features a filmmakers’ commentary, early animatics, actors recording their voice work and more behind-the-scenes material playing along with the movie.
There are a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including It’s a Family Affair: The Cast of Escape 2 Africa, The Making of Escape 2 Africa, Crash Landing and African Adventure (All in HD). Together, they dissect every aspect of the film, from conception to post-production.
Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak (HD) is an interesting but brief lesson on the language of Swahili. The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar (HD) looks at an exhibit at The Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.
There are two new penguin shorts – Popcorn Panic and Gone in a Flash (Both in HD). The first is a 12 minute comedy in which the penguins try to stop a zookeeper from cracking down on zoo patrons feeding the animals. Gone in a Flash is the same length as the first and features another adventure with the penguins and King Julien. Both of these tales are built for kids, but ‘big kids’ may enjoy them as well.
The extra features are topped off with a series of Easter Eggs, The Heart of a Lion (HD), which is accessed through the BD Live feature, a Blu-ray exclusive Trivia Track (HD), and a series of music videos that allow kids to listen to short clips for each song from the film and then enter the DreamWorks Animation Jukebox and watch fifteen minutes of musical clips from several of the studio’s films.
Languages: English, English Subtitled, French Dubbed & Subtitled, Spanish Dubbed & Subtitled
Audio: 5.0 Dolby TrueHD, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Stereo
Theatrical release year: 2008
Blu-ray release date: February 6, 2009
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Writer: Etan Cohen
Cast: Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ben Stiller, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Sherri Shepherd, Will.i.Am, Elisa Gabrielli, Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon
To celebrate the release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, DreamWorks Animation presents Air Penguin: Special Delivery Service. Visit www.Air-Penguin.com and let the Penguins of Madagascar deliver your special E-greetings using good ol’ grit, spit and a lot of duct tape.