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Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa - Blu-ray DVD / animation DVD / family and children's DVD review
Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath Studio: Dreamworks Animated
DVD release: 06 February 2009 Runtime: 89 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ration 2.35:1, Audio tracks (English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital), Subtitles (English, English SDH+, French, Spanish), Filmmakers' Commentary, It's A Family Affair: The Cast of ESCAPE 2 AFRICA (HD), Crash Landing (HD), African Adventure (HD), Jambo Jambo: Swahili Speak (HD), The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar (HD), Alex's Dance Off (HD), Test Flight of Air Penguin game (HD), The Heart of a Lion (HD - BD-LIVE), MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA Activision game trailer, Music videos in HD ("Move It, Move It"; "Big and Chunky"; "She Loves Me"; "The Traveling Song")

The gang from Madagascar is back for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa as Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are on their way back to New York City. The penguins and lemurs have managed to piece together the wreck of a plane from the first film to get our heroes back to the Central Park Zoo. Naturally, the main characters from the first film are going with them.

The Penguins, who fairly stole the last film are in top form. King Julian (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his faithful assistant Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) are along for the ride as well and sitting in first class, naturally. Mort (Andy Richter) even manages to get to the continent (chased by a shark that's more tooth than fish).

The destination is New York, but jungle technology has its limitations and they are forced to make an emergency landing in Africa. The four main characters find others of their kind to bond and identify with. Gloria spends some time looking for a mate and finds Moto Moto (Will.i.Am), who finds Gloria delightfully chubby. He's suave and debonaire, and all the ladies want to get close to him. Melman finds a herd of giraffes who are just as hypochondriacal as he. They appoint him their doctor and he is well-suited to the task. Marty finds a herd of zebras just as spunky and talented as he, though it's difficult to differentiate one from the other and he aches for his individuality. Alex, perhaps the luckiest, finds his family from whom poachers took him at an early age.

The conflict comes in the form of Makunga (Alec Baldwin), who uses his cunning to dethrone Alex's father, Zuba (the late, great Bernie Mac), from his place as leader of the pride. We also have the old lady who beat the tar out of Alex at Grand Central Station in the last film. She's been given a name of sorts: Nana (Elisa Gabrielli). She organizes a group of NYC tourists into wilderness survivors with her no-nonsense approach.

There's a lot to like about Madagascar 2, though the original fish-out-of-water elements have subsided. There are conflicts that these big-city zoo animals are hardly conditioned for, though naturally they do get to play to their strengths when the need arises. The kids will like it as much as the first, and adults won't easily tire of it, as with most Dreamworks animated fare.

The Blu-ray version brings gorgeous scenery to the screen. I can really appreciate the labor that went into some of the scenes filled with fields of exotic grasses. All blades blowing in the wind, some of them crushed by footfalls or knocked aside by the lead characters - each blade can be seen in sharp detail. The attention to details is incredible - no corners cut here.

I wonder if they'll call the next one "Madagascar 3"? It'll likely have nothing to do with the island.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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