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I don’t know what’s wrong with me. First it was Bee Movie and now Madagascar–lately; I’ve had a huge soft spot for computer animated, talking animal pictures. If you are currently suffering from that affliction, Dreamworks’ Madagascar is just the film for you. We are introduced to four zoo animals – the giant hippopotamus Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), the African lion Alex (Ben Stiller), a reticulated giraffe named Melman (David Schwimmer), and Marty, the eternally optimistic plains zebra (Chris Rock). Living a pampered life at the Central Park Zoo, each animal has their own unique take on life. Alex loves the attention from visitors, and puts on a show for them every day. Melman is a hypochondriac and Gloria is content. Marty, however, has a bad case of wanderlust and spends his free time daydreaming of “the wild”.


Madagascar_Still_PK_005.jpgWhen the other animals throw Marty a party for his tenth birthday, he makes a wish to “go to the wild.” Though his friends try to talk him out of it, Marty sneaks out of the zoo and goes to Grand Central Station. Realizing Marty is gone; his friends decide they better follow him. Obviously, four large zoo animals on the streets of Manhattan cause quite a commotion, and the animals are shipped off to a reserve in Kenya when well meaning humans mistake their mass escape for a desire to be free from captivity. On the journey, the ship is overtaken and steered off course, thanks to some militant penguins trying to return to their native Antarctica. The four friends are thrown overboard, washing ashore on the tropical island of Madagascar.
Everyone but Marty freaks out and wants to return home immediately. Things get worse when the group encounters a mass of wild lemurs led by a deranged ring-tailed specimen, King Julien XIII (Sacha Baron Cohen). The lemurs are in awe of the size of the zoo animals, and hope they can help protect them from their enemies. However, the four friends have more pressing problems – Alex is getting hungry. After days of no food, the cat goes savage and almost kills Marty. To keep his friends safe, Alex goes deep into the jungle by himself. Crushed, the three remaining friends can’t believe their eyes when the ship returns; the penguins didn’t find Antarctica to their tastes. Now to face the challenge of bringing their famished friend Alex back from the jungle in order to go home together…
Madagascar is an uplifting, delightful film. It’s really a story about friendship, so it’s impossible not to root for these four animals as they go to Madagascar and then work to get Alex back on the boat home. Each character is very engaging and should appeal to viewers young and old. Madagascar on Blu-ray should be added to any film lover’s library.
The picture is framed at 1.85:1, and it is encoded in MPEG4-AVC at 1080p. The video is gorgeous. So many fine details of fur, skin, and leaf texture, muddled in standard definition, come alive on Blu-ray. It shows all the smallest touches the animators labored to put in – even the sparse little “mustache” of hairs on Gloria’s upper lip. I noticed no compression artifacts, aliasing or edge enhancement.
Boasting an impressive array of options, Madagascar comes to Blu-ray with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, as well as Spanish, Portuguese, and French Dolby Digital 5.1 options. The lossless TrueHD audio is quite impressive, especially given the good handful of scenes throughout with real action or musical performance of some sort. Dialogue is clear and well-balanced, and even with Cohen’s deliberately heavy Indian accent on his character of King Julien, every mused aside or indignant retort is picked up. Multiple language options are a nice touch.
Madagascar Special Features: All of these items are in HD unless otherwise noted.
Mad Trivia Pop-UpTrack – This track features behind-the-scenes fun facts about the production or the animals. It’s fairly basic information that has mostly been covered in the other documentaries at some point. You can choose to watch this in the Subtitle menu as it plays over the feature.
Audio Commentary with Directors Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell – The guys go into some depth about the story, actors and production. Kind of bland.
Penguins in a Christmas Caper (12:08) – “Hoover Dam!” The Penguins take the spotlight in this short showing exactly why they deserve their own movie.
Meet the Wild Cast (7:47) (SD) – Interviews with the voice actors.
Mad Mishaps (1:30 ) – Rendering gone wrong!
Behind the Crates (23:16) (SD): Showing us how the picture was made and interviews the cast, director and crew.
The Tech of Madagascar (4:59) (SD) – the details of the CGI animation is explored in more depth.
Penguin Chat (8:43) – The penguins give commentary to their scenes in the movie.
Enchanted Island (7:50) (SD) – Documentary on the real Madagascar and the animators discuss its translation into the movie.
DreamWorks Animation Jukebox – This feature allows you to pick songs from several of your favorite DreamWorks animated titles. It then plays the song with accompanying animation from the feature.
DWK – Choosing this feature accesses the music video for “I Like to Move It, Move It” and a “Learn to Draw” feature that shows you how to draw the four main characters step by step.