Review: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

2008-12-07 00:00

CineCentre, Nu Metro and Ster Kinekor

This, the sequel to the original Madagascar, is by far and away the better of the two films. It’s funnier, the animation more detailed and the script more poignant and complex. The film begins where the first one ended — on the culturally rich island of Madagascar — only this time round our domesticated animal-friends are plotting their way back to New York City … on an abandoned plane repaired and manned by penguins.

All the characters from the first film are back, including Sacha Baron Cohen as Julien the lemur, who’s got to be one of the funniest characters in animated-film history. Well, as the title suggests, the plane doesn’t get to New York, and crash-lands in Africa. The plot’s all predictable from the opening scene through to the credits at the close, but that isn’t where the film’s strength lies. The reason Madagascar 2 is great is accredited to its multi-faceted layers of humour that appeal to audiences of varying ages. While some of the slapstick stuff received huge roars from the kids, Cohen’s lemur does more than enough to get a laugh or two out of the adults. The script’s complexity has a lot to do with its subtext, which is laced heavily with sound life lessons and significant moral values. The central theme of it all is acceptance, and “mini” themes emerge as an off-shoot, examples being social acceptance or the ability to embrace differences in culture, particularly apt for our rainbow nation.

From an aesthetic viewpoint Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is visually pleasing. It’s all very detailed, dust in the air creates atmosphere, the water surface reflects, individual strands of hair move and so forth. Any animated feature of this format will time and again come up against two specific films. Is Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa as good as Finding Nemo, or the first Shrek? Sadly, no. It’s an entertaining film with a solid structure, yes, but it simply doesn’t do enough to carve a niche for itself in the genre, and upon leaving the theatre it’s all soon forgotten.


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