"I believe the fat lady has sung."
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa on Blu-ray Disc Review
By Rachel Cericola
Not quite -- at least when it comes to the Madagascar
franchise. In Escape 2 Africa
, the quirky characters make a return that's even more fun than the original. Animated or otherwise, very few films can stake that kind of claim.
The sequel picks up where the last left off, with the furry, funny creatures trying to get back to New York. The quirky crew manages to rebuild an old airplane, which crashes en route, into the wilds of Africa. What do you expect when the pilots are a bunch of penguins?
Now, of course, no one in this crowd really has the kind clout to become king of the jungle. Still, they seem to manage. For Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), however, it's more of a spiritual journey, since he is reconnected with the parents (Sherri Shepherd and Bernie Mac) he hasn't seen since getting snatched as a cuddly cub. The reunion isn't all snuggles and tongue baths, though. A rival lion, Makunga (Alec Baldwin), instead sees Alex's return as a threat to the jungle throne.
Alex is definitely the king when it comes to screentime. However, the other animals are not forgotten. Two of them even fall in love! Overall, the characters have a lot going on both in the story and on the screen -- with plenty of penguin action (of course!) to boot.
Check out Chris Boylan's review of the theatrical release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
What better way to test out Blu-ray than on a bunch of wacky animals? The animation
in Madagascar 2
is very similar to the first -- and looks extremely cool in this 2.35:1 transfer. One thing that sets this sequel apart from the original is that there seems to be even more detail here. Sure, there are the same bright, beautiful colors from the first. However, there are even more jungle creatures, more blades of grass, and more fine hairs on Alex's mane. It's simply stunning and well worth the price of the disc for that display alone.
This crazy crop of animals delivers enough endless yapping to make your adult head spin. However, the TrueHD 5.1 does an excellent job of delivering dialogue, no matter how many creatures are chattering away. The jungle can get pretty loud, with booming bass and funky music. The track also pumps out a lot of small details; the creatures don't just come out at night, but also from the rear speakers.
This disc should keep the kids entertained long after the movie's 98-minute runtime. Highlights include the language lesson in "Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak" and a breakdown of Alex's move-busting in "Alex's Dance Off." Of course, there are also more penguins (in clips and a game), and a sampling of songs from other animated movies in the DreamWorks jukebox (the only one that includes live-action is the Jack Black/Gnarls Barkley "Kung Fu Fighting" cover from Kung Fu Panda
-- and it did scare my kid from the room).
This is the type of Blu-ray release where the actual story is a bonus. Even if the fun wasn't there, the stunning image is enough to justify spending the $40 (list). Still, if you found the original to be funny, you'll love the ride in Escape 2 Africa
. If you have kids in the house, you probably don't have much of a choice anyway.
Where to Buy:
- Voice Actors: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Alec Baldwin, Bernie Mac, will.i.am, Sherri Shepherd
- Directors: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
- Audio/Languages: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby 5.1 (French, Spanish)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Region: A
- Number of Discs: 1
- Rating: PG
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Blu-ray Disc Release Date: February 6, 2009
- Run Time: 89 minutes
- List Price: $39.99
- Filmmakers' Commentary
- The Animators' Commentary
- Trivia Track
- It's a Family Affair: The Cast of Escape 2 Africa
- The Making of Escape 2 Africa
- Crash Landing
- African Adventure
- Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak
- The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar
- More Penguins
- Mad Music
- Test Flight of Air Penguins Game
- The Heart of a Lion (BD Live)