Starring Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Cedric the Entertainer
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 23, 2008
When Madagascar first came out in 2005, the computer-animated film was considered a commercial success but I still avoided it like the plague. I do not know why but there is something about computer-generated films littered with big-named stars that just makes me think it is going to be a stinker. Now with the sequel coming out in November, Paramount/Dreamworks has decided to re-release the film, this time on Blu-ray DVD, giving me an opportunity to find out if I was right to miss it the first time.
Madagascar follows the life of a group of pampered animals that all happen to be the star attraction at the Central Park Zoo in New York. One of the animals, Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock), realizes on his tenth birthday that something is missing in his life. He is tired of being cooped up in the zoo and wants see the world. When Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) discovers fellow zoo residents the penguins’ plot to dig a hole to freedom, Marty follows suit and breaks free with them. His friends Alex the Lion, Melmam the Giraffe (David Swimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) go after him in an effort to bring him back to the zoo. The mission fails famously and in a series of odd events, the animals get stranded on a tropical island left to fend for themselves for the first time.
After watching the movie, I am happy to say that it was not as bad as I thought it would be. The story was pretty straight forward, easy to follow, and filled with fun, charming characters. Whether it was happy go lucky Marty or neurotic Melmam, there is a character for everyone to love. The movie is one of the few children films that I can safety say is for the whole family. There were jokes in their geared for the younger viewers and some nice pop culture references to keep the adults entertained. I was also surprised at how unfazed I was at the celebrity casting. I was so sure that it would bother me a lot more than it did but other than Chris Rock, whose voice is recognizable in any fashion, none of the voices stood out like a sore thumb. Without that distraction, I was able to focus on the breathtaking animation. More cartoony and less realistic, the film looked a lot like what an old Warner Bros. cartoon would look like had it been made in the 21th century.
There are some flaws to the film. While the overall premise and characters are great, the story gets old fast. I felt ridiculously bored in some portions, most likely because this film is geared toward a younger audience. I also would have liked to have seen more of the bit players in the movie, such as the Madagascar Penguins and Mason and Phil, the sophisticated monkeys. They were funny and could have used some more screen time. Also, for a Blu ray disc, the blu-ray extras are severely lacking. All this new edition offers is an extra Trivia Pop-up feature during the movie. The rest of the extras, from bloopers, making of features, and a music video can all be found on the regular DVD that came out a few years back. I would have hoped that Dreamworks would have added a widescreen edition of the movie or even a free ticket to see the new movie but I was probably grasping at straws.
If you were a fan of the film the first time it came out and never got a chance to pick it up on DVD, you should definitely pick up the Blu-Ray Edition (provided you own a Blu-Ray player). Otherwise, I would suggest you buy the regular edition and use that extra cash to go see the new movie in theaters.