Sunday, February 8, 2009

Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa

Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, released November 2008.

My expectations were not high, I wasn't disappointed.  It's a kids movie, so what do you expect?  Fast transitions, extra-hyper actions, funny voices, nothing that makes you think too much.  Honestly, this generation of kids have such a high stimulus-intake, its unbelievable.  There were parts of this movie that made my head spin when I took myself out of the action and tried to see it as a whole scene or sequence for all the movement and music (which was surprisingly good).  

The title is a little misleading, there is no escape, and Africa was never the intended destination, though that is where the movie mostly takes place.  The movie begins with a recap of the first movie (which I never saw), and tells the childhood story of our main character, Alex the Lion, or, as he is known by his long-lost parents, Alekey.  Apparently, he was not the strong lion that his father, the King, had anticipated while they were in Africa.  Luckily for the Father, Alekey was kidnapped by some sort of trapper and later lost at sea, so he never had to watch his son become the metro-sexual dancer he became when Alekey was recovered in New York.

The main story surrounds this relationship.  Interestingly, they do create well-established side stories for each of the supporting main characters.  The Zebra is confronted by a herd of zebra and he finds himself, a very unique character in his own clique, to be completely undistinguishable from the rest of the herd.  The Hippo and Giraffe have a mixed story, as the Giraffe is secretly in love with the Hippo who find herself very involved in the hippo-dating scene.

To tell the truth, the topics the covered were pretty emotionally deep, but they only dwelt enough on each topic to give you a taste of the problem before switching to another character's problem or resolution.  I mean, it is a kids' show, that's appropriate, and like I said, kids' shows have so many fast cuts and changes, it's the easiest way to keep a child's interest.

Not a lot of the jokes were heaps-funny, but there were plenty of laughs from the audience.  Personally, I laughed loudest at the antagonist's lion-mane and at the Captain Penguin's line about sacrifices.  

Now, because the story was so divided in it's conflict-foci there is a lack of a strong antagonist struggle.  In fact, while the antagonist starts a lot of trouble, he is only brought to ruin by another lesser (but arguably more formidable) antagonist.  This reduces the story's struggle considerably.  We see the characters making a lot of snap-decisions without thinking out any consequences or more than superficial motivations (kids' movie).  No one is really concerned with changing anything, just getting away with things.

All in all, it was pretty enjoyable, unless you were looking for an adult film.  I actually kind of like looking at simple stories and seeing what those story tellers can get away with after so very little explanation and I'm always amazed by it.  Final thought: this is entirely a kids' movie; a good one, but don't expect the layering of Shrek, blame the complex story arcs.


  1. It worked; I want to see it now!

    So it IS a kid's film, though? (a story about people who just want to see what they can get away with?) I think you've just defined what it is about most adult action films that bores me.

  2. And what's that? Getting away with murder?

  3. I wasn't a fan of the first one, but I must say, the second one was quite enjoyable. It had a more grown-up sense of humor. I laughed when the giraffe was fixing the elephant's trunk, and he said "Looks like someone's been a little naughty." There was a little girl sitting next to me, and I looked at her and she was laughing uncontrollably. I don't think she understood the sexuality of it, though, haha. Good movie, overall, though. Great review, btw.

  4. All the elements you wrote off with "it's a kid's movie" are all the reasons I don't let my kids watch most modern "kids' movies." I think they aren't great for a little developing brain and are even worse for a little developing soul. So thanks for the heads up: I'm a boring enough mom that now there's no way I'm letting my kids see this one until they're old enough to not be the target audience. :)

  5. I saw it and enjoyed it thoroughly, probably because I had seen the first one and knew exactly what I was getting into. I enjoyed the relatively unsophisticated humor and had a good time settling into a child's mindset for a couple hours. Great review.