By Fred Topel | Image property of DreamWorks Animation
Madagascar: Escape to Africa
Madagascar: Escape to Africa is a good sequel to Madagascar. Fans of the original will get more of the same sort of humor and a continuation of the characters' stories. That's really all it needs to do.
Review: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
It immediately reveals Alex's backstory, so that deepens the mythology for anyone who's into it, and the baby is adorable. They show a little bit of the reaction in New York when the animals went missing, for some perspective, but really only a little.
The mandate for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa must have been "more penguins." Everybody loves the penguins, so they're all over this sequel, even in the studio logo. The old lady from the subway must have been a favorite too because she's become a main character.
The whole thing is a happy party. Everyone likes the "Move It Move It" dance too because they do that again. In fact, the authors of that song must be retired off the royalties from this franchise, since it's all over the end credits and even pieces of the score too.
There are jokes for everyone: iPod references for the hip kids, Roots for the cultured, Planet of the Apes and West Side Story for the film buffs. The racial metaphor with the zebras is quite slick. There are a lot of visual gags too so at least they use the medium.
The characters split up for some separate adventures for a while, though still interweaving. It's a good extension of each character. Marty found a home, now he's not unique anymore. Alex found his instincts, now he has no skills. Melman actually becomes a doctor and Gloria gets courted.
As you can tell, I'm not especially thrilled with it. To me these movies are okay. They're funny enough since I have to sit through them, but not clever enough to get me otherwise. So they did another one, and probably better than the original, but I'm simply tolerant.