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Madagascar: Escape to Africa (2-Disc Move It, Move It Edition) - animated DVD / family and children's DVD / Blu-ray review
Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alec Baldwin
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath Studio: Dreamworks Animated
DVD release: 06 February 2009 Feature runtime: 86 minutes
(2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 1.78:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, Spanish; Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround - English), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), DWA Jukebox, Filmmaker commentary, 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, Test Flight of Air Penguin Game, MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA Activision game trailer, Music Videos, THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR ("Popcorn Panic" and "Gone in a Flash"), The Bronx Zoo: Madagascar, Alex's Dance Off, The Heart of a Lion, PC Flash mini-game, MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA game demo w/ exclusive cheat code, HP Printables, Weblinks, Penguin Easter Eggs

A sequel to a much-loved movie is always a bit tricky. You want it to be similar enough to the original that it keeps the spirit of what you enjoyed the first time, but unique enough that it can stand on its own. The sequel to the hit 2005 movie Madagascar, titled Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, mostly delivers, but falls just a little short in a few areas. True fans and those not examining the film too closely won't mind at all, and kids will delight in revisiting the familiar fun characters again.

Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (voiced by Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith) have decided to leave Madagascar on Penguin Express airlines and return to their beloved New York City. They are accompanied by the lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), who provides, as always, a large amount of comic relief. As should be expected, the plane crashes and the passengers end up on a game reserve in Africa. It just so happens that this is the same preserve that Alex was taken from by poachers when he was just a cub. He is reunited with his parents, king lion Zuba (voiced by the late Bernie Mac) and his mother (voiced by Sherri Shepherd).

It wouldn't be a movie without a conflict. An evil lion named Makunga (voiced by Alec Baldwin) wants to take control of the kingdom (shades of Lion King anyone?). A subplot involves the penguins attempting to repair the airplane by stealing the jeeps of tour groups, one of which includes the furious Nana, Alex's nemesis ("Bad Kitty!")

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a delightful family movie, with a plethora of jokes sure to please viewers of all ages, from children to adults. The voice talent is beyond spectacular, and this is a must-see for everyone who enjoyed the first movie. Just a warning: there are lots of opportunities to hear everyone's favorite song-that-you-can't-get-out-of-your-head: "I Like to Move it, Move it."

Included in this edition are a large number of featurettes and special features, from storyboards to African authenticity and Swahili lessons. Disc 2 contains two 12-minute episodes of the upcoming Nickelodeon television show "The Penguins of Madagascar." Unfortunately, after just viewing the feature film with its wonderful graphics, the television show seems flat and lifeless. My kids found it pleasantly amusing, so maybe on TV they will forget about the beautifully animated movie and just enjoy the show for what it is. The second disc isn't anything they will watch more than once, though.

Overall, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is highly recommended and a good time for the whole family.
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reviewed by Melissa Parcel
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