BluRay/DVD Reviews

MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

By • Feb 26th, 2009 •

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I didn’t catch the original, but the hype that # 2 was even better reeled me in.

This one’s a sweet, energetic tale with the usual dose of in-jokes for adults and moral lessons for children stirred in, a recipe which helps make it fun family fare. The artistry involved makes it repeatable.

Origami-like character animation is a novel choice and, despite its curious stylishness, manages to be delightfully anthropomorphic. I cared about these guys, something I’m sorry to say I didn’t for the characters in CORALINE, where instead I just cared a lot for the imagination of the camera and art departments.

Since Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK, character animators have made an effort to conform the facial and even body mannerisms to what we associate with the actors hired to create the voices. Phil Harris, Louis Prima, Sebastian Cabot, and particularly George Sanders as Shir Kahn the Tiger were beautifully portrayed by the 1967 film’s animators. Here the closest the animation comes to capturing the actors’ physicality is Makunga , the conniving lion who covets the Alpha position in the pride, played by Alec Baldwin. But the others are good as well, including Ben Stiller in the lead (a role not dissimilar from several he’s associated with in live action), Chris Rock as a Zebra, David Schwimmer as a giraffe, Jada Pinkett Smith as a hippo, Will I Am, and Cedric the Entertainer. Only Sacha Baron Cohen was problematic for me, with his hyper delivery that rarely provoked laughter, but this may have been a problem related to not having seen the original. Seven of these voice actors are reprising their roles from the 2005 feature.

On the tech side, Hans Zimmer’s familiar musical ideas are recognizable a mile away, and they’re always welcome. The orchestration and motifs add adventure and passion to the narrative.

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