Image Courtesy of Amazon.com
Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
Ben Stiller……….Alex the Lion (voice)
Chris Rock……….Marty the Zebra (voice)
David Schwimmer……….Melman the Giraffe (voice)
Jada Pinkett-Smith……….Gloria the Hippo (voice)
Animation had three real high points in 2005. The first two were with stop gap animation as the Wallace & Gromit movie and Corpse Bride both were good movies, and animation had one quality film in 2005, a year full of sub-par animated films: Madagascar.
Madagascar is the latest release in a long line of animated features. It comes complete with another in the long line of talented casts as well, with Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith and David Schwimmer lending their comedic talents to this fish out of water tale.
The foursome star as Alex (Stiller), Marty (Rock), Melman (Schwimmer) and Gloria (Pinkett-Smith), four zoo animals who have never known the roughness of the wild and are closer to domesticated cats and dogs than wild beasts. Having always known the comforts of the New York City Zoo, they venture out into the city one night on Marty’s 10th birthday (ostensibly for him to visit the wilds of Connecticut) and end up being shipped back to the wild from whence they came from. Obviously they are completely out of their element as zoo life can have a taming effect on previously wild animals and from there it’s a mad cap rush into mediocrity.
The film looks as good as the The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. If there’s one thing that isn’t spared it’s the animated detail. And while the film looks great, it has a mediocre story and a mediocre cast.
Stiller and Rock are great and carry the film as the two have a comic timing that radiates across the screen. The movie’s high points tend to reflect the moments these two are in charge on screen; its flow and comedy radiate from these two. When they’re not featured as heavily, it’s as funny.
Outside of the main action, the main subplot of the movie involving the penguins (featured prominently in the advertising) is hit or miss. It mainly hits in small doses, but as a whole the interludes to their various antics are moderately funny as a whole.
That’s a recurring theme; certain circumstances are a major hit comedy-wise (anything with Stiller and Rock in prominence), but others (situations not featuring Stiller or Rock in combination) fall flat more often than not.
Score : 5 / 10
Presented in a widescreen format with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Madagascar looks spectacular. The film itself is a triumph of how good an animated film can look and has a top-notch transfer.
Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the film sounds just as good as it looks. Dreamworks has invested heavily in making this movie look great as well as sound great and succeeds wildly.
The Penguins in a Christmas Caper is a short featurette also featured before the theatrical release of Wallace & Gromit. Featuring the scene-stealing penguins from the film, in this adventure they have to save one of their own in a whacky mishap.
Mad Mishaps is a short piece of collected out-takes and animation snafus collected to a techno beat.
Meet the Wild Cast is an eight minute piece featuring the cast and crew talking about the film and their characters. It’s mainly a fluff piece, as they talk more about how they crafted the voices they did.
Behind the Crates is a fluff piece about the film that covers the same things as Meet the Wild Cast does.
The Tech of Madagascar is a piece about how they designed and developed the film. Focusing on the technology behind it, the piece is a rather interesting featurette about how they crafted and designed the characters. In an era where animation has advanced, it’s a unique insight that runs around five minutes.
Enchanted Island is a featurette on the actual island of Madagascar and the creatures that inhabit it.
Galleries are stills from all three major portions of the film: the scenes in New York, on the shop and on the island itself.
Cast and Filmmakers biographies
“I like to move it, move it” music video
Commentary with the penguins
Commentary with Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
Games & Activities
bEqual Madagascar Trivia is an interactive game that tests your knowledge of the animal kingdom of three differing levels of difficulty.
Learn To Draw is a brief instructional piece that shows you how to draw the basic character sketches of the four main stars of the film.
Fossa Whack pits you against the evil Fossas in a whack-a-mole style game.
Matching Lemurs is a dancing game where you match each dancing Lemur with the correct dance partner.
Marty’s Birthday Wish is a hide and seek game where you find the product that Alex has hidden for Marty.
Madagascar Symphony lets you play a game where you have to keep playing an instrument by clicking on it to continue the game.
Score : 7.5 / 10