Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
Featuring voices by Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer
If you didn’t catch this film in the theater or its original DVD release, the tale of zoo critters on an adventure is now available on DVD in Blu Ray by Dreamworks Animated.
In the Central Park Zoo is home of Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith). All of them are pretty happy lounging around all day, getting food from employees instead of having to hunt for it and getting the smiles from the kiddos all day. That is, everyone except for Marty, who would like to be in the wild and having adventures and escape the cement confines of the zoo.
After seeing the zoo’s penguins plan an escape to return to their natural habitat, Marty decides he is going to make a break for freedom too. Soon, everyone is in Grand Central station dealing with animal rights activist. Through many twists and turns, the gang finds themselves on their way, they think to another zoo. But, they instead wind up stranded in Madagascar.
Upon arriving, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria deal with the “wild” in different ways. The place where they landed is covered in cute lemurs, the leader of which, King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) is happy to ask for help regarding the new jungle cats that have been making their presence known.
Meanwhile, Alex the lion starts reverting back to his “wild side”. Now instead of seeing only the look for friendship in the eyes of his traveling companions, he is viewing them as potential meals.
The penguins have found a way to make it back to Antarctica. But instead of it being the paradise they imagined, they arrive in complete “white out” conditions. One of the penguins states wryly “this sucks.”.
Madagascar provides young and old alike with some laughs. I was particularly entertained by the penguins, especially the leader Skipper, voiced one of the directors Tom McGrath. McGrath based the voice of Skipper on Charlton Heston. Oh, and the little penguin Kowalski that is pretty clumsy and gets on Skipper’s nerves is a favorite as well.
Sacha Baron Cohen has a lot of charisma in his part of King Julien. In fact, everyone does a nice job, but I just can’t help but think that Wanda Sikes might have been a lot of fun in the part of Gloria the Hippo.
While Madagascar might not quite be on the same level of a Pixar animated film, it is surprisingly a lot of fun. You don’t have to have any rug rats to enjoy popping this in the DVD player one night. Trust me; you are going to love the penguins.
Madagasca is presented in widescreen 1080p/AVC. The Blu ray transfer looks great. The image is stunningly clear and vibrant. The level of detail is impressive. The Blu-Ray is printed right from the digital source so there are no issues with transfering from film such as film grain and artifacting. The only minor issue is that at a couple of points in the film there’s just a bit of banding, something that happens quite often with animated films. Otherwise, this is a fantastic presentation.
The film is presented in 5.1 TrueHD in the original English Language with optional subtitles. The dialogue was crystal clear and well mixed. Every nuance of the film sounded crisp. The sound stage is surprisingly limited though and the sub woofer doesn’t get nearly enough use. It’s a good experience but not the best you’ll find on Blu-Ray.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Madagascar: Blu Ray Edition is standard Blu Ray case with artwork featuring the main critters of the film.
There are some nice bonus features to explore on this release. There is a commentary with directors Eric Darnell and Tom Mc Grath available. It’s a fun listen and you get a lot of fun stories of working with the cast.
There is also some fun commentary with the penguins and trivia track. Four making of featurettes entitled Behind the Crates, Tech of Madagascar, Enchanted Island and Meet the Wild Cast are offered.
Some production notes and bios are included. Christmas Caper, a short animated film featuring the penguins are submitted for your viewing enjoyment. Rounding things out is the “I Like to Move It, Move It” music video and a few interactive games and activities.
Overall ( Not an Average) 7.5/10
The Movie 7.5/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8/10
The Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10