Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Review by Jack Foley
DREAMWORKS’ latest is yet another sequel that operates by the law of diminishing returns. Hence, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa isn’t so much bad, as really, really safe.
The plot provides a virtual re-run of the first movie (albeit with a little extra added touchy-feely stuff), the characters act the same, the songs get recycled and the penguins steal the show despite limited screen-time.
Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Melan the giraffe (David Schwimmer), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) attempt to make their way back to New York, only to crash-land in Africa where a new set of challenges await them.
For Alex, the crash is a home-coming that reunites him with his long-lost father Zuba (voiced by the late Bernie Mac), while Gloria has to overcome relationship difficulties and finds love in an unlikely place, and Marty attempts to stand out from the pack (of zebras) by proving himself to be an individual.
Meanwhile, King Julian the lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen) attempts to re-assert his authority, while the penguins and the monkeys attempt to rebuild the plane for another attempt at New York.
That said, kids will – and do – love it. The animation is bright, the story moves along at a nice pace and ALL of their favourite characters return (right down to the grumpy old lady who beat up Alex in the NYC underground in the first film).
Yet by playing to its perceived strengths, the sequel feels weaker as a whole. The best animated movies have always exhibited boundless invention, whether it’s Pixar’s classics or DreamWorks’ own Shrek or Kung Fu Panda.
Sadly, Escape 2 Africa feels like by-the-numbers sequel making that places caution above true innovation or progression.
What’s more, the songs become boring and repetitive and some of the humour feels a little too old (and sexual in nature) for its youngest fans. And several of the mane characters appear more self-centred than is necessary.
The overall impression is therefore one of disappointment because, for all the moments that work, there are far more negatives than positives.
Running time: 89mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: April 6, 2009
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read the review
- Ben Stiller interview
- Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett Smith interview