| Note: Two Movie Reviews submitted below for "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" by Keith Cohen and Jolene.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
3 1/2 Stars (Out of four)
Review by Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"
Prairie Village native and Shawnee Mission East graduate Eric Darnell is back in the writer/director chair (along with Tom McGrath) for this highly-anticipated sequel to the number one family comedy of 2005. The loveable foursome raised in the Central Park Zoo in New York City- Alex the fancy-footed lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the quick talking zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the anxiety-ridden giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the smart and sassy hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) - were left marooned on the distant shores of Madagascar in the first film.
This movie opens with a flashback to Alex as a baby. His father Zuba (the voice of the late Bernie Mac) is the alpha lion and the leader of the pride. He is distracted while fighting his rival Makunga (Alec Baldwin) and Alex gets captured by hunters. Adapting to a fish-out-of-water predicament, the cute and cuddly Alex matures into the star performer in captivity. A transitional scene from the first movie takes us to the present in Madagascar. These fun-loving creatures with human traits still like to "move it, move it" and break out into a song and dance number. They are getting ready to take off on a repaired plane and return to the Big Apple. The pilot and flight crew are the quartet of industrious penguins led by Skipper. The other passengers are King Julien the lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen), Maurice (Cedric The Entertainer), Mort (Andy Richter) and the chimpanzees Mason and Phil.
The maiden voyage of Air Penguin is a short one ending with a crash landing on the African mainland. While discovering their ancestral roots, the main characters quickly realize the differences between the concrete jungle and living free in nature. Alex is reunited with his mom (Sherri Shepherd from "The View") and dad. In a page out of "The Lion King", Alex must go through a rite-of-passage so that he can follow in Zuba's footsteps as the future heir to the throne. Makunga throws a monkey wrench in those plans. Marty finds himself losing his uniqueness when he becomes part of a roaming pack of "crack-a-lackin" zebras. Gloria wants to find a mate, settle down and have babies. She is courted by a chunky womanizing hippo named Moto Moto (recording artist will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas). The hypochondriac Melman becomes the new witch doctor for the giraffes. He realizes that he loves Gloria but has trouble expressing it. The scheming penguins engage in a military operation (code named Tourist Trap) where they steal safari jeeps for spare parts to repair the airplane. One of the tourists happens to be Nana (Elisa Gabrielli), the little old Jewish lady from Yonkers who swings a mean handbag.
This sequel is as good if not better than the original. Every character is given a chance to shine in the spotlight. Briskly-paced with a running time of 89 minutes, this gem will entertain both children and their parents. It tells a great story and is very funny. The animation is super utilizing a broad canvas that illustrates the vastness of open spaces with a big sky. The large watering hole on the reserve is a magnificent sight to behold. It is refreshing that there is no swearing or objectionable material in this first-rate, family-friendly film. It would be my choice as the best animated film of 2008. A fitting tribute appears during the end credits thanking Bernie Mac for all the laughter he provided during his glorious career in show business. The IMAX version on a giant screen, available in Johnson County exclusively at AMC Studio 30, offers the most impressive presentation for a few extra bucks.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
2 1/2 Stars (Out of four)
Review by Jolene Mendez
The New York Zoo animals are back, returning to their roots in the sequel entitled "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa". Opening scenes are a flashback to Alex the lion's life in the open desert in Africa. After a tragic turn of events we learn how Alex became the big city show cat. Then we fast forward to the animals stranded in Madagascar, only to take flight and crash in Africa. Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo along with Alex are excited when they crash to find the breathtaking animal haven known as Africa. Alex is reunited with his father in Africa, who assumed Alex was a victim to hunters many years ago. The reunion is not all it expected to be as Alex does not have the same fighting skills as his father and finds himself banished from the lion pack.
Marty finds himself multiplied by the hundreds and enjoys the running and tricks he shares with his fellow zebras. Melman becomes the witch doctor and begins to care for others, putting his own health worries to rest for the time being, as Gloria begins to search for a fellow hippo to become her mate. The group of zoo animals find themselves loving Africa, but each in their own way. They do find their friendships tested as time goes on. Will they love Africa more than the Central Park Zoo, or will the desire to return to the Big Apple create a new mission?
Madagascar has great animation, but was lacking in other areas. The dialogue I found a little too advanced for the younger audience, noting many children under five became distracted and lost interest half way through the film. The "Move - It" song offered another upbeat tune, but aside from that musical tune no other musical hits were offered. Madagascar has something to offer for the whole family and can be enjoyed, but keep in mind your children need to have a good attention span to truly enjoy this flick. Definitely a step down from the first one, but you should not let that stop you from seeing a film with great humor and animation.