Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

You have to give them credit, whoever came up with idea of blowing movies up to IMAX size, because it has brought back to theaters the kind of spectacle we simply can't reproduce at home. I saw Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in IMAX, and It. Is. Jaw-droppingly. Gorgeous.

Kudos, too, of course, to the animators -- there's one sweeping vista of the African Serengeti here that took my breath away. Escape is so gorgeous, in fact, that it took me a while to realize that the heart and the soul of the first Madagascar, the aspect that made it so special, is missing here. As a pleasantly rowdy cartoon that diverts and amuses, one that will appeal to a wide audience without having to dumb itself down to do so, Escape is a splendid success. It's when held up to its predecessor that it feels a bit... lacking.

The returning writing and directing team of Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath have only themselves to blame: They set the bar high with the previous film, warping a deeply touching valentine to New York City and to urban civilization on the whole with their tale of zoo animals suddenly lost in nature. Showoff performing lion Alex (the voice of Ben Stiller) and funnyman zebra Marty (the voice of Chris Rock) could only be friends within the cultivated confines of city life, what with Alex being a carnivore and Marty being made of meat. Now, though, Alex and Marty are even more lost in nature -- and it's a far more idealized nature this time out, where, it seems, all the lions and all the zebras have no trouble getting along all the time. Their abortive flight from the island of Madagascar -- more on that in a moment -- gets them only as far as continental Africa, where the lions appear to have no trouble refraining from eating the local herbivores.

Adventures in readjusting -- again -- to yet another alien environment for the city-slicker critters ensue. I won't spoil any of that: It's sweet and clever. What rankles is who is cast as the villains: a band of human tourists from New York City (also lost), whose attempts to re-create civilization result in some very bad things. The humans are doing what Alex and Co. did in Madagascar, but they're the bad guys for it now.

But if you can turn your brain off -- as, obviously, I can't -- there's some wonderful stuff in Escape, too. Like a terrifying and simultaneously hilarious airplane sequence, as the penguins -- oh yes, they're back -- make King Julien's cargo-cult crashed-airplane temple just about airworthy again in order to fly the zoo gang home. And there's King Julien (the voice of Sacha Baron Cohen), a delightfully clueless yet impossibly arrogant little monster. Alec Baldwin's minor villain, the lion Makunga -- shades of The Lion King's Scar -- is a hoot. Good stuff. Funny stuff.

Look, it's fine. It's cute. The kids will love it. Their parents won't be bored. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a perfectly nice time at the flicks. But the unexpected and affecting wisdom of the original Madagascar is still ticking in my head, three years later. As for its sequel, I've all but forgotten it already. (Rated PG)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Age of Zaycon
  • Age of Zaycon

    Spokane Valley's Zaycon Fresh found a way to make millions selling meat — and now it's trying to make a lot more
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Hazy Days of Summer
  • Hazy Days of Summer

    Smoke blankets the region; plus, Patty Murray on the proposed Iran deal
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Brick by Brick
  • Brick by Brick

    Development continues in downtown Spokane; here are some construction projects that could change the city's urban core
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Saving Seeds: A Seed Library Event

Saving Seeds: A Seed Library Event @ Hillyard Library

Tue., Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Maryann Johanson

Most Commented On

  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • 'Flip of a Coin'

    A Spokane Valley deputy trained to spot stoned and drunk drivers is wrong nearly as often as he is right, blood tests from drivers show
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


marijuana


Comment


Publisher's Note


BUSINESS


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation