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Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Will i Am
Writing Credits:
Etan Cohen

Move It, Move It.

The animals try to fly back to New York City, but crash-land on an African wildlife refuge, where Alex is reunited with his parents.

Box Office:
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$63.106 million on 4056 screens.
Domestic Gross
$179.282 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/30/2010

• Audio Commentary with Directors/Co-Writers Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath and Producers Mirelle Soria and Mark Swift
• Trivia Track
• “Animator’s Corner” Picture-in-Picture Feature
• “It’s a Family Affair: The Cast of Escape 2 Africa” Featurette
• “The Making of Escape 2 Africa” Featurette
• “Crash Landing” Featurette
• “African Adventure” Featurette
• “Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak” Game
• “Test Flight of Air Penguin” Game
• “Mad Music” Videos
• Previews
The Penguins of Madagascar Animated Adventures
• “The Heart of a Lion” Featurette
• “The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar” Featurette
• Easter Eggs


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 12, 2016)

Is it a bad sign when you can’t figure out what a movie’s actual title is? I knew that the film in question was the sequel to 2005’s Madagascar, but I’ll be darned if I could figure out its name with accuracy. Was it Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa? That didn’t make sense since only one “2” appeared. Was it Madagascar 2: Escape Africa? That didn’t sound right.

It turns out the name was Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. That’s a clunky title for a fairly mediocre film. Indeed, one gets the impression that the crew expended their attempted cleverness on the use of “2” in the title and had little creativity left for the actual movie.

A quick prologue shows us how Alex the lion ended up in New York. Originally named Alakay, his father Zuba (voiced by Bernie Mac) rules their pride, but he endures frequent challenges from oily egotist Makunga (Alec Baldwin).

During one of these encounters, poachers capture young Alakay. He escapes their clutches but floats to New York by accident. There he grows up in the Bronx Zoo and becomes the entertaining “King of New York”.

From that point Escape sums up the events of the first flick and shows Alex (Ben Stiller) and pals Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) as they plan to fly away from Madagascar. Other characters from the earlier film come along as well: King Julian (Sacha Baron Cohen) decides to rule elsewhere, and the spunky penguins pilot the plane.

The flight doesn’t go well, and the inhabitants crash-land in the middle of an African game reserve. By an extreme coincidence, this is the same spot where Alex lived as a child. He soon re-encounters his parents and gets back with the pride while his pals see what life is like among members of their own species in the wild.

Alas, the good feelings don’t last. Just like his dad, Alex has to endure the machinations of Makunga, and Marty starts to feel anonymous among all his seemingly identical zebra brothers.

Gloria revels in the chance to meet a hippo mate, but weight-obsessed Moto Moto (Will.I.Am) doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Melman becomes the giraffe doctor but soon fears he has only 48 hours to live and frets about whether or not he should declare his love for Gloria.

That’s a lot of story points – probably too many for such a short film. The Alex thread dominates, of course, but Escape gives the others space.

These tie together acceptably well by the end, but along the way, they make the movie a bit of a mess. We jump from Alex to Marty to Gloria to Melman to the penguins to Julian and even encounter some stranded tourists as well. Again, the movie does manage to connect all of these dots in the third act, but until we reach that point, the film doesn’t move smoothly.

Nor does it prove tremendously entertaining. Escape goes for the kitchen sink approach to comedy: it throws out everything it can think of and hopes that some of it will stick.

And some of it does; you’ll find a decent handful of laughs here. Whether or not “a decent handful of laughs” suffices for a flick with so much talent behind it is a different matter, though.

I don’t think it does. Escape provides reasonable amusement but I can’t avoid the impression that it should’ve been more than that. How can a movie with Stiller, Rock, Cohen, Mac, Cedric the Entertainer and the others be so relentlessly… okay? While it’s far from the biggest waste of talent I’ve seen, it doesn’t manage to deliver the comedic goods we would expect from those performers.

All of which leaves Escape as serviceable entertainment and that’s about it. I enjoyed my time with it to a decent degree but didn’t take more from it than that. It kept me occupied for 90 minutes or so and then essentially vanished from my mind.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect no problems during this positive transfer.

Sharpness looked good. Softness wasn’t an issue, as the image seemed concise and well-defined. I noticed no issues connected to shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. Of course, the computer-animated affair came without source flaws, so don’t worry about any specks, marks or other defects.

With its jungle settings and exotic characters, Escape featured a broad palette that looked great. The movie’s colors seemed dynamic they offered strong vivacity and impact. Blacks were concise and dark, and shadows seemed clear and smooth. Overall, Escape provided fine visuals.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Escape also seemed positive. In the forward domain, the music showed fine stereo imaging, while effects blended together neatly and smoothly. Those elements moved from speaker to speaker cleanly as the track created a solid sense of atmosphere. It even included a fair amount of dialogue from the side speakers, which offered a good impression of breadth.

Surround usage generally favored reinforcement of music and effects, but the rears came to life nicely during a number of scenes. For instance, shots related to the plane showed effective use of the surrounds, as did the other action sequences like the volcano sacrifice. The mix helped bring the material to life.

Audio quality consistently appeared fine. Dialogue was natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music was rich and warm throughout the movie, with good clarity as well.

Bass stomped to life nicely during the louder scenes and effects always seemed clear and accurate, with no signs of distortion or other concerns. This was a nicely engaging soundtrack that earned a solid “B+“.

How did the Blu-ray compare with those of the original DVD? Audio was fairly similar, though the lossless mix offered a bit more heft. Visuals showed the more obvious improvements, as the Blu-ray seemed clearer and more distinctive.

The Blu-ray repeats most of the DVD’s extras and adds some new ones. Carried over from the DVD, we begin with an audio commentary from directors/co-writers Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath and producers Mirelle Soria and Mark Swift. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They look at animation and visual design, color schemes and cinematography, cast and performances, story and character issues, music, research in Africa, and some topics related to making a sequel.

Across the board, we find an enjoyable though not great commentary. I certainly can’t find much to fault here, as the track delves into the appropriate topics with reasonable detail. I especially like the parts about changes made to the original story; for instance, Alec Baldwin was originally slated to play himself. The commentary simply lacks a certain zing that would’ve made it more engrossing. It works fine, though.

For an alternate view, the Blu-ray offers Animator’s Corner. In terms of audio, it mainly focuses on the commentary; other elements like clips of the voice actors and quick interviews also appear, but we mostly hear the filmmakers do their track.

The “Corner” includes visual components, though. We see test art and storyboards as well as clips of animators and others at work. I’d like the “Corner” better if it didn’t rely so heavily on the commentary, but it’s still a pretty satisfying expansion of that track.

Another addition to the Blu-ray, we can watch the movie with a Trivia Track. This text feature includes notes about the film’s production as well as facts about elements like animals and locations. It’s a good collection of details.

Some featurettes follow. It’s a Family Affair: The Cast of Escape 2 Africa goes for nine minutes, 13 seconds as it presents remarks from Darnell, Swift, Soria, McGrath, and actors Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Alec Baldwin, Willow Smith, Sherri Shepherd and will.i.am. We get some notes about cast, characters and performances. Don’t expect much depth here, as the comments remain fluffy and insubstantial. I always enjoy shots of the actors at work, though, so that side of things satisfies.

The Making of Escape 2 Africa goes for 11 minutes, five seconds and features Soria, Darnell, McGrath, Swift, Stiller, will.i.am, production designer Kendal Cronkite-Shaindlin, visual effects supervisor Philippe Gluckman, head of effects Scott Peterson, supervising animators Jason Schieffer, Cassidy Curtis, Jason Spencer-Galsworthy and Sean Mahoney, character technical director Milana Huang, head of character animation Rex Grignon, and composer/songwriter Hans Zimmer. The show looks at research and bringing Africa to life, character design and animation issues, and music. With barely 11 minutes at disposal, “Making” doesn’t dig into details, but it provides a fairly satisfying overview of a few filmmaking issues. It’s a fun and informative little piece.

Next we find the three-minute and 40-second Crash Landing with remarks from Swift, Darnell, McGrath, Grignon, and head of layout Nol Le Meyer. The featurette follows the development and creation of the movie’s plane crash sequence. Behind the scenes elements come to the fore here; shots of the animators at work make this a cool glimpse of how they created the sequence.

African Adventure fills seven minutes, 18 seconds with notes from Swift, McGrath, Darnell, Soria, Cronkite-Shaindlin, and Grignon. “Adventure” follows the filmmakers’ trip to Africa to research the film. It proves satisfying as we get a nice peek at the inspiration for the movie’s settings.

After this we locate an educational piece. Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak runs one minute, 41 seconds and provides an overview of some Swahili terms. It then splits into an optional glossary with an additional eight expressions such as “blessings are better than wealth”. It’s all pretty forgettable.

Next we find the Test Flight of Air Penguin game. This requires you to pick replacement parts for the aircraft. It doesn’t provide much of a challenge, but at least it’s not annoying like most games of this sort.

Under Mad Music, we find four videos. These accompany “Move It, Move It”, “Big and Chunky”, “She Loves Me”, and “Traveling Song”. The latter appears in a “sing along” format. These are essentially just cheap conglomerations of animation, though “She Loves Me” lifts a sequence from the final flick. None of them prove to be interesting.

Also under “Mad Music”, we get a DreamWorks Animation Jukebox. This lets you see/hear songs from Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, Over the Hedge, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Shark Tale. All of this feels like glorified advertising to me.

Within The Penguins of Madagascar, we find two sequences from a Nickelodeon series. We see “Popcorn Panic” (12:08) and “Gone in a Flash” (12:09). In the first, Zookeeper Alice (Mary Scheer) enforces a “no feeding the animals” policy; the penguins and King Julien (Danny Jacobs) strive to subvert her efforts. During “Flash”, King Julien thinks he’s trapped Maurice (Kevin Michael Richardson) inside a camera; the penguins attempt to assist in his release.

Penguins offers brisk and peppy entertainment. The shows boast surprisingly good animation, and the vocal performances fare well. Only a few original performers return here, but the replacements do well, especially Danny Jacobs as King Julien; he offers a very convincing take on the character. I have no idea if the series’ producers can keep the laughs coming, but this first episode of Penguins entertains.

For an 11-minute and 56-second featurette called The Heart of a Lion, we take a look at life in the Ngotongoro Crater. This shows a mix of animals but focuses on lions. It’s too brief to provide a detailed nature program, but it includes some nice shots of the animals.

The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar goes for eight minutes, 17 seconds and offers a tour from Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny. We also get comments from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) president/CEO Steve Sanderson and Bronx Zoo director of planning Sue Chin. The show provides little pop-up factoids to add more info along the way. While obviously aimed at the kiddies, “Zoo” provides a reasonably interesting overview of animals native to Madagascar. Sure, it seems like an ad for the Bronx Zoo’s exhibit, but it’s still informative.

The disc opens with promos for Monsters Vs. Aliens, Secrets of the Furious Five, The Penguins of Madagascar, and the original Madagascar. These also appear in the disc’s trailers domain along with a clip for the Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa video game. No trailer for Escape itself appears here.

Look for some Easter eggs on the Penguins episode selection menu. Poke around and you’ll find at least four short clips of the characters. They’re moderate fun.

I can’t say I was wild about the original Madagascar, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that its sequel doesn’t do much for me. Escape 2 Africa provides a few laughs but nothing more than that; it proves rather forgettable. The Blu-ray offers terrific visuals along with strong audio and an interesting set of supplements. The movie doesn’t do a lot for me, but the Blu-ray represents it well.

To rate this film visit the prior review of MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main