Some who have been following my DreamWorks series may remember I was not a big fan of the original Madagascar film. I thought it was cliched, unfunny with terrible animation particularly in the character design. DreamWorks often improves their franchises on the 2nd film and I was hoping that would be the case with the Madagascar sequel dubbed Escape 2 Africa but sadly it was not to be. I really thought this was a dreadful animated film.
My biggest problem with this movie is I found it rather mean spirited. At least in the first film you had the lemurs and penguins to bring some humor to the festivities but here that comic relief is used very sparingly. Instead we get an opening number where a baby lion is abducted while his father is shot at. Then you have plane crash that’s pretty intense and an elderly woman is punched in the face repeatedly. It doesn’t sound like a laugh riot to me…
The movie starts showing Alex’s birth family and his father teaching him great lessons while his uncle is scheming for power (because we haven’t seen that plotline with lions before…). The uncle is voiced by Alec Baldwin and I thought he was awful. He was annoying and a villain we’ve seen a million times.
The troop end up getting to Africa and meet their respective species where they all have trouble fitting in. Marty the zebra had a funny sequence where he looks like all of his fellow zebras and doesn’t feel unique any more but the rest including a romantic storyline between Melman and Gloria did nothing for me.
Escape 2 Africa is one of those comedies for children where they think characters arguing and saying mean things to each other is the same thing as telling jokes. It reminded me of the last Ice Age movie in that regard. It just kept getting more argumentative, annoying and mean spirited as it went along until I could barely stand it.
I also didn’t appreciate how we have another movie that treats masculinity as inherently toxic. Alex doesn’t want to fight because he was taught to dance and entertain. Eventually he wins everyone over to his side and they accept him, which is great but it’s just such a tired lesson at this point. Why not have him train and learn to be a better fighter? This wouldn’t just be acceptance but it would be empowering. It would show he could be both the fighter and the dancer, so even better.
The animation also can’t save Escape 2 Africa. It looked remarkably cheap for 2008. The voice acting is good and I do like the penguins when they are on screen. I wish we got much more of them.
I know other people enjoy this franchise but it is not for me (at least so far). I really didn’t like this film much at all.
Overall Grade- D