Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Movie Review: Madagascar 2

I took Olivia and her friend Reagan to see Madagascar 2 yesterday. It was a rainy day, the kids were all out of school for Veteran's Day, so what better to do than go to the movies? Apparently everybody else agreed, because the place was packed. But that was a good thing; it added to the energy of the whole event, having all these excited young kids who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

As to the movie: It's been a while since I've seen a CG-driven movie on the big screen, and I was constantly impressed by the imagery. From the opening sequence overlooking an African savanna, through plane-crash sequences and zebra dance routines, the scenery was stunning and surprisingly realistic.

In addition, the movie did well at balancing the kid/adult spectrum. The plot was quick and funny enough that the youngest children seemed to stay involved throughout, but there was enough subtlety and innuendo to keep adults interested until the end. The storyline was simple enough for all to follow, yet filled with insider jokes such as Survivor ripoffs and a not-so-subtle dig at airplane manufacturing union strikes.

In the end, it was the characters that really drove the movie. Besides the four central characters, you had the hubris-driven penguins, the brawny-but-brainless Moto Moto, the granny from New York who would take no guff, and a host of others who made short but important appearances.

There was a moment in the middle of the movie where it seemed to muddle down a bit; it was difficult to keep about five different plot lines all progressing at the same time. Also, whether intended or not, the central plot seemed awfully close to Lion King - the Alpha Lion being challenged by a devious usurper, the son choosing fun and play over true grit and character, the son needing to redeem himself and take back the throne that is rightfully his. Which meant it was hard not to compare the two movies as this one progressed, thus taking some attention away from the actual movie showing in front of us. But then again, the target audience of Madagascar 2 probably wasn't born when Lion King came out, so maybe it's not an issue. Finally, this critique: one or two jokes about large animal posteriors might be funny. But how many do you actually need in one movie? It got a little old after awhile. Although the kids laughed every time, so what do I really know?

In the end, I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars. I laughed more at this one than I have over any movie in quite some time. The effects are powerful, the plot interesting, the characters lovable; it all comes together in a very enjoyable movie, for kids and adults alike.

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