Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa
When Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) escaped from their Manhattan zoo in 2005 hit Madagascar, they were leaders of their animated pack. Despite a slew of imitators since, Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa shows why DreamWorks, like Pixar, have stayed ahead of their rivals. After a Lion King influenced flashback which sets up Alex’s father issues, this sequel from the original’s directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath puts the animal pals on a flight back to their zoo home, only to crash-land in Africa. The going-native theme is expanded, with good-time fascist lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen) getting the best lines and the penguins the best laughs; the real cleverness comes from recognising the riffs, from the ‘gremlin on the wing’ sequence from The Twilight Zone to the falling plane camaraderie of Almost Famous.
Attempting to shoehorn in a few too many messages about individualism, Madagascar 2’s volcanic resolution is, however, disappointingly conventional, but there’s unexpected poetry in the animals’ first view of Africa’s sweeping CGI-plains, with not only the theme from Born Free swelling up on the soundtrack, but a plaintive out-of-range message seeping from a mobile phone. And while only the early reprise of Reel to Reel’s ‘I Like To Move It’ truly recaptures the madcap spirit of the original, this sequel sets up Madagascar 3 as a welcome prospect.
General release from Fri 5 Dec.