Your favorite castaways are back – still together and still lost!
DreamWorks Animation’s MADAGASCAR: Escape 2 Africa is “even better than the first!” (FOX-TV). You’ll laugh out loud as this outrageous comedy takes you on an African adventure like no other.
I once chance upon an article on the web supposedly done up by some DreamWorks detractors that the company is only good at coming up with animations featuring talking smiley animals. Talking antz, talking raccoon, talking bees, talking pandas and well, a whole bunch of talking animals in an animation called "Madagascar".
While it’s convenient to dismiss DreamWorks outputs, one must bear in mind that the second largest animation powerhouse is fast reaching the once mighty Disney in terms of box-office returns. Led by the highly aggressive and hands-on CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, the sequel to "Madagascar" was greenlit shortly after it was released or more appropriately a very lucrative box-office.
If you missed the first "Madagascar", fret not it’s as easy as ABC to follow the sequel. The four buddies, Alex (a lion voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty (a fearless zebra voiced by Chris Rock), Gloria (a hippo by Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman (a cowardice giraffe, David Schimmer) are trapped at Madagascar and their plan now is to take a make-shift airplane pilot by some zany penguins back to New York.
You know DreamWorks productions never strive to be as clever as those Pixar productions or some of Disney’s glorious past flicks. Last year, "Kung Fu Panda" is one exception that raised the bar for the company. So most of the time, we get some throwaway gags and cheap laughs to while away the time. Sample an amusing male hippo named Moto Moto (will.i.am) and a subplot that smells like a certain great Disney classic, "The Lion King". The penguins again stole the limelight from the main cast with more of their insane antics but other than that, it’s the same old DreamWorks’ one trick pony at work.
Visually the CG animation technology is excellent to marvel, in fact it seems to improve by leaps and bounds. Critically, the story itself never expands or takes off to new frontier. The crew and cast with the addition of new players such as Alec Baldwin and the late Bernie Mac play it all safe even though there’s occasional brightness and potential for intelligent storytelling.
In terms of entertainment value, the little young ones will be highly entertained by the funny gags and colourful backdrops. I must add for a short 89 minutes runtime, it never for once loses its steam thus prepare for a nutty wild ride. Unfortunately yet again, this sequel will not impress any DreamWorks detractors.
And oh "Madagascar 3" is already in development as we speak.
Filmmakers Commentary - Directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, producers Mireille Soria and Mark Swift talks about the technical aspects of making the movie. Occasionally, McGrath (who voices Skipper and Lemur in the movie) breaks into his Skipper voice to entertain the listening audience.
It's A Family Affair: The Cast of Escape 2 Africa – A 9 minutes feature that show the voice cast hard at work behind the microphones.
The Making of Escape 2 Africa – The usual cast and crew interviews, some behind-the-scenes are shown in this 11 minutes segment.
The Code 3 DVD is round up by a DWA Jukebox and the Madagascar Escape 2 Africa Activision Game Trailer.
The CG technology showcase here is wonderfully transferred to the DVD. Colours are immensely rich and those highly detailed graphics are impressive to behold even on the small screen. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is bursting with energy with a rousing score by Hans Zimmer and wonderful song sketches.
Review by Linus Tee