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Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Take a bunch of New Yorkers, plop them into the African savanna, and what do you have? A fantastic adventure with all of the New York Central Zoo characters whom we adored in the first Madagascar movie.

Although the film presents a recognizable Lion King main storyline, the examination of self undertaken by each of the four main characters brings a new depth to this sequel. In garnering our empathy, the film's creators enhance the audience's emotional investment in the characters' individual journeys. As the animals mingle with others of their "own kind" for the first time, they experience the desire to fit in versus the need to express themselves as individuals. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) finds that his theatrical instincts, while praised back home, aren't much appreciated by lions in Africa. And, while Alex isn't fitting in, Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) works to discover what sets him apart from every other zebra in the herd. Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), with her citified sensibilities, wants to be loved for more than her attractive figure, and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) must find personal courage even while he asserts incredible public bravery.

A little human interaction also ramps up the humor when a herd of New York tourists take to the African back roads. One little granny, Nana from the first movie (Elisa Gabrielli), does her hometown proud with her reminders that New Yorkers can survive anything. And with her crack spunk, she embodies both the primitive and the refined, humorously exposing that they are, of course, indisputably intermixed.

The IMAX experience enriches every aspect of the film, with the mammoth screen and the exceptional surround sound offering a peripheral experience that puts you right there; in the airplane with the crazy but oh-so-efficient penguins, overlooking the magnificent African landscape, and hanging precipitously with Melman over a raging volcano.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa has a tame climax and a mild denouement, but the entire experience is satisfying, endearing, and laughter-inducing from beginning to end.


- Heather Kindberg

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