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Madagascar - The Coppola Restoration Giftset - Blu-ray DVD / drama DVD review
MADAGASCAR Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Cedric the Entertainer
Director: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath Studio: Dreamworks Animated
DVD release: 23 September 2008 Runtime: 86 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, French, Spanish, Portugese), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese), The Penguins in a Christmas Caper (HD), Mad Mishaps, Penguin Chat (select penguin commentary), Mad Trivia pop-up

What happens when you take several pampered, big-city zoo animals and put them in the wild? Madagascar answers that question. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are zoo buddies. In the wild, Alex would likely eat any of them; in New York's Central Park Zoo, they're all friends and Alex is the star. On Marty's tenth birthday, he realizes that his life is half over. He wonders what it would be like to run free through the wide-open spaces of, say, Connecticut.

Alex is lovin' his life at the top of the heap and tries to talk Marty out of escaping. Eventually, though, Marty does leave and Alex, Gloria, and Melman break out to bring him back to the zoo before the humans find out. They all get caught in Grand Central Station, and the zoo officials and some animal rights activists decide that it's too dangerous to have wild animals in the city. The entire zoo is packed up in crates and sent to a wildlife preserve in Kenya. Thing is, they don't quite make it to Kenya. Four clever penguins manage to hijack the ship (and very nearly the movie). The crates that hold Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman fall overboard, and our heroes wash up on the shores of Madagascar.

The rest of the film is spent dealing with Alex's hunger and growing instincts to eat Marty. The main population of Madagascar is lemurs and fossa. The lemurs like to dance and carry on in a carefree way; the fossa like to eat them. The lemurs, headed by King Julian (Sacha Baron Cohen), decide to adopt the zoo animals as protectors, not realizing they're actually pansies.

Madagascar is an entertaining film your kids will enjoy, and it holds up to repeated viewings for adults as well. The characters are cleverly designed using sharp angles where soft ones are more often found. For instance, Gloria's nostrils are made of an angular spiral rather than a simple hole. The animation is fine and fun to watch, its creators invoking the sacred names of Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Chuck Jones and paying heed to the lessons they taught. The fuzzy things look absolutely snuggleable, and the soft things look absolutely delicious. They use a bright palette that seems just on the other side of reality - Dreamworks Animation is really coming along.

The Blu-ray edition makes these shapes even more bright and delectable than before. Something Blu-ray does for computer-generated features is to make it possible to see every hair that Dreamworks' computers spent hours rendering in perfect contrast. You can see the attention to detail. The Blu-ray edition has all the same features as the original DVD edition, including Mad Mishaps, Penguin Chat (select penguin commentary), and "The Penguins Christmas Caper" (all in HD) but adds a pop-up trivia feature that runs during the feature. Another advantage it has over the DVD release is a non-annoying main menu. If you don't already own it, the Blu-ray is the way to go. If you have the standard definition, don't rush out.

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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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