madagascardvdThe original ‘Madagascar’ is one of my favorite animated films to ever be released. The 2005 original film was a huge hit for DreamWorks Animation bringing in $532 million dollars worldwide at the box office. The sequel does a tad bit better at the box office with a total $574 million dollars in ticket sales. This is DreamWorks Animation second most successful franchise right behind ‘Shrek’.

Our favorite friends from the first film are lost yet again. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are planning an escape yet again, except this time it is from Africa. King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the ruler of the animal kingdom in Africa. As they are trying to fly back to New York, their plane crashes into the wild jungles of Africa.

It seems like these guys could never get to their destination without some kind of roadblock. The good here is that Alex reunites with his mother and father Zuba (Bernie Mac). His mother recognizes him almost immediately while his father had some doubts at first. While there are happy times for a reunited family, there is a bigger problem with the evil Makunga (Alec Baldwin). He wants to rule the land by taking over in any manner possible.

‘Madagascar 2’ takes a few cues from ‘The Lion King’ infusing some similar ideas. While some aspects are not original in this film, it is still a very enjoyable film. It is the characters here that really make both ‘Madagascar’ films stand out. The voice talent is some of the best put together in an animated film. Between the story and voice talent, everything gels together so well here in the sequel.

I didn’t mention the penguins from the original film; well they are here in all their glory. They are another aspect of the franchise that makes this film so fun. They are up to their old tricks as they continue to throw orders around.
Movie Content: 4.5/5

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Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio anamorphic widescreen. I was surprised that the video looked so vivid and colorful for a DVD release. Due to the colors popping off of the screen, it brings out the details in the animation. Some good examples of fine details, look at Alex’s fur coat, you can see individual strands of hair. This has to be one of the most pristine animated films that I have seen. DreamWorks continues to churn out some beautiful looking animated films.
Print Quality: 4.5/5

The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and is mainly a film with dialogue pushing the center channel which is crisp and clear. The surrounds do get their work too when we get songs off of the soundtrack. This time around there are even more effects than the first film with an even higher production budget.
Audio Quality: 4/5

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Special Features

Disc One

  • Feature-length audio commentary with directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, and producers Mireille Soria and Mark Swift
  • “It’s a Family Affair: The Cast of ‘Escape 2 Africa'” (9:10)
  • “The Making of ‘Escape 2 Africa'” (11:02)
  • “Crash Landing” (3:37)
  • “African Adventure” (7:16)
  • “Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak” (1:42)
  • “‘Test Flight of Air Penguin’ Game”
  • “Mad Music”

Disc Two

  • “The Heart of a Lion” (11:56)
  • “The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar” (8:14)
  • “Mad Activities”
  • “Alex’s Dance Off”

Special Features: 4.5/5

The Penguins of Madagascar DVD Review

With the last few DreamWorks Animation shorts, I have been a tad bit disappointed. It is not because the quality of the films was subpar, but the length of mere 24 minutes to try and tell a story. They felt more like a self contained episode to launch a television series. DreamWorks takes a rather different approach here with ‘The Penguins of Madagascar’ which is a two-pack release along with ‘Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’ DVD. We get two 12-minute episodes with the fearless foursome penguins as they make a return to the New York City zoo with King Julien, Maurice, and Mort. Both episodes ‘Popcorn Panic’ and ‘Gone in a Flash’ are a great setup to the new television show.

Both episodes were rather great and it seems like if the same style of writing continues it will keep this series on a strong pace to garner a new audience with the old. In ‘Popcorn Panic’ the zookeeper Alice will not allow popcorn to be fed to the animals anymore. This sets up the penguins pitted against Julien. Then in ‘Gone in a Flash’, Maurice must be rescued after King Julien captures him. It is rather interesting how the stories are played out with some smart storytelling. They keep you engaged from start to finish which is great.
Movie Content: 4.5/5

Special Features

  • “The Bronx Zoo” – a tour of the new Madagascar exhibit in NYC.
  • “Alex’s Dance Off” – Alex puts on a dance show for the viewer.
  • “Mad Activities” – DVD-ROM content.
  • “Heart of a Lion” – documentary on lions geared more towards the younger audience.

Special Features: 3.5/5

I found that these episodes are great for both adults and children opening things up for a greater audience. I highly recommend purchasing this set for ‘The Penguins’ DVD alone.

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The Final Word

While ‘Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’ lacks a tad bit in originality, it is an excellent animated film. Fans of the original will not be disappointed and the DVD version of the film has some excellent video surpassing my expectations.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5