Madagascar – Escape 2 Africa (2008/Paramount/DreamWorks Blu-ray)
B+ Sound: B+ Extras: B- Film: C
Zebras and Sequels, OH MY! New to
Blu-ray is Madagascar – Escape 2 Africa
from DreamWorks Studios. The first film
did enough business and brought enough smiles to children’s faces (not to
mention the merchandising) to warrant a sequel.
Though the Madagascar lacked
the heart of the Shrek films, it was
clearly better than the disappointing Shark’s
Tale starring the voice of Will Smith.
family friendly tale of Madagascar continues
where the last film left off and features the same old faces with voice actors
such as Ben Stiller (Alex the Lion), Chris Rock (Marty the Zebra), David
Schwimmer (Melman the Giraffe), Jada Pinkett Smith (Gloria the Hippo), and
Sacha Baron Cohen (Julien the “King” Lemur).
Some new voices such as the late Bernie Mac (Zuba) and Alec Baldwin
(Makunga) also appear in this Africa inspired sequel. As the gang tries to fly home via the aptly
named “Penguin Air” after their first adventure they wind up crashing in the
heart of Africa. Even in the heart of
Africa Madagascar 2 still lacks
soul. The film is full of subplots for
the characters that never quite come together and overall is more distracting
than anything. Sure there are musical
numbers and the occasional chuckle here or there, but overall the film did not
piece together. On a positive note,
however, the film winds up being just as enjoyable as the first; so take that
for what its worth. The animation is
pleasant and the light hearted comedy is enjoyable throughout; it just simply
can’t compare to what Pixar or even DreamWorks’ own Shrek has brought to the table.
review of the first film on Blu-ray Disc can be found at the link below:
Definition quality of the feature is pretty decent as far as picture and sound;
with the extras being mildly entertaining.
The film’s picture is presented in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 1.85 X 1 transfer
that demonstrates bright colors, a crisp image, and wonderful texture. I would not say this is on the level of a
Disney/Pixar release, but the vivid image stands out and nicely presents the
power of Blu-ray and High Definition.
The sound is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Track (48kHz/24bit) that is
immersive throughout as it brings the characters and jungle atmosphere to
life. The sound is clean throughout as
it pans across the full speaker range and is demonstrated best during the
explosive action sequences.
extras include The Penguins of Madagascar
a short that takes the best characters in the film on their own adventure and
is presented wonderfully as it is funny, engaging, and portrays the same high
quality picture and sound. Other extras
include 4 Mad Music Videos/ Alex’s Dance
Off which seem to be extended promo spots and a lackluster attempt to
showcase some of the film’s music/dance moves.
Test Flight of Air Penguin Video
Game is a simplistic interactive game that gets boring quickly, but may
entertain the kids for a few minutes. Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak, Heart of a Lion,
and The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar are three separate featurettes that each
explore different real life happenings that pertain to the film; such as real
life lion footage, a trip to the Bronx Zoo, and how to speak Swahili. The
Animators’ Corner: Storyboards and Interviews does exactly what it says in
a much abbreviated manner, but is interesting never the less. Finally, the extras include Audio Commentary
with co-directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath as well as some of the producers
that overall was drab and uninspiring despite four participants and the
occasional interesting factoid.
Blu-ray offers a few exclusive features such as Picture-in-Picture as well as a
Trivia Track and BD-Live; nothing truly to write home to mama lion about.
enjoyed the first Madagascar (or at
least the kids did) then Madagascar:
Escape 2 Africa is more of the same light hearted fun presented in crisp
- Michael P. Dougherty II