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Does MADAGASCAR 2 carry the torch of quality Dreamworks Animation established with Kung Fu Panda? Maybe not...

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I missed KUNG FU PANDA when it first hit theaters, but I was able to catch it this weekend and really enjoyed it. The trailer for MADAGASCAR 2 looked horrible to me, but as with any studio... when you see that they know how to make a fun, quality flick you have hope that they'll keep the trend running. Madagascar 2 looks to have tested and judging from this review it's a return to form (in a bad way). However, I will say that early screenings for animated films have to be taken with a bigger grain of salt than other films... so much is in the visuals and when it's a comedy to boot, the timing is crucial. So, while this looks bad and it might very well end up that way, just consider how rough the film was when reading. Here's our spy who attended:

Okay, I am going to start this blog by saying that 1) I am not comparing this to any Pixar film (that wouldn't be fair...) and 2) I am comparing this to Kung Fu Panda. Which was, as I have said before, the best Dreamworks Animation film yet. I will also start by saying that I did not like Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa. At all. So that's all out front right away. I've lain my cards on the table, and I have to go into why this was such a poorly done film. The film, from start to end, is an obvious cash in on the success the the original (and also just as mediocre) reaped in. Every scene just feels so cheaply written, and it's all underscored by the feeling (I could not escape) that it's a rip off of 1993's The Lion King (Disney). I'm not saying it's the same, it just feels like it was trying to hard to be that classic film. And it's not. The film had it's moments (all of which had to do with Skipper and his posse of penguin crusaders/comic relief/vigilantes), but has a whole it's a let down. I'm not looking at the film from an animation standpoint, what was 100% completed was well done, but it never felt like a quality title. From the outset I couldn't help but think about what it would have been if the team that made/effort that went into Kung Fu Panda would have done for this. What that quality writing could have made it. This is all over the place I know, it's just that after Panda I thought that maybe, just maybe, Dreamworks Animation got the picture. One cohesive tale, targeted for children but appealing for all, where everything fits in it's place. Escape 2 Africa just never did it. Never wove an engrossing story, never entertained me beyond the scenes with the penguins, and it just tried too hard. The parts which were made for kids felt too childish, the parts that were aimed at adult felt like kids would be asking "what does that mean? (references to the number "69"). The over reaching multi-character perspective made the movie seem like it was trying to go too many places at once, and in the process it also seemed like it would leave the younger audiences confused. I really don't know where to go with this. The film was just bad to me. Broken where it should not have been, and where it worked some of the jokes may be too much for younger children. I don't know. When Madagascar 2 hit this November I won't be going to see it. To be honest, like Madagascar, Shark Tale (which I also saw way in advance), and Shrek 2 and 3, I could do without seeing this film ever again. It was just that bad story-wise. Again, not saying much for animation as much of the film was in a state of un-polish/story-boarding. But what I saw was enough for me. 2/10 On a note: this was my second test screening of the year, the first was Tropic Thunder, which was surprisingly good.

Readers Talkback
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  • June 22, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

    FIRST!!!

    by mmaddox3

  • June 22, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST

    FIRST!!!

    by mmaddox3

  • June 22, 2008, 4:48 p.m. CST

    First twice?

    by Johnny Thanatos

    Ya kinda guaranteed you'd be second by posting firsties twice. Though you may be first... you are also now one of those poor souls we look on with sympathy that posts "FIRST!" only to be ...second.

  • June 22, 2008, 4:53 p.m. CST

    Pretty Vague.....

    by dalbatron

    If you ask me.. you didnt? well you should have. shame on you and all your family...

  • June 22, 2008, 4:54 p.m. CST

    if you claim first!!

    by dalbatron

    Then you show how one can be both a winner and a loser both at the same time

  • June 22, 2008, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Tropic Thunder "surprisingly good"

    by supertoyslast

    What was surprising about Tropic Thunder being good?

  • June 22, 2008, 4:55 p.m. CST

    FOURTH!! YESS!!!

    by kingben

    I can die happy

  • June 22, 2008, 5:09 p.m. CST

    i actually liked shrek 3...

    by Holodigm

    but i agree on the others, they were awful. they just need to scrap the madagascar series altogether and make a short film about the penguins before each dreamworks cg film, pixar-style.

  • June 22, 2008, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Much ado about a trailer????

    by DaKnifeOrDaGun

    Geez...you would have thought there was a movie review about Madagascar 2 from reading. It's a trailer for pete's sake. There were plenty of people who didn't get Pixar's Wall E initial trailers but the screenings have done well and the trailers since the first have been much better. Dont judge a book by it's cover.

  • June 22, 2008, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Does it have needless pop-culture references??

    by jimmay

    And obnoxiously obvious celebrity voices??? --One can only dream. Pixar owns modern animation. Fact.

  • June 22, 2008, 5:23 p.m. CST

    DaKnifeOrDaGun

    by BadMrWonka

    it was a movie review, did you even read it? not too quick on the uptake, are ya Kojak?

  • June 22, 2008, 5:25 p.m. CST

    Madagascar 2 .....

    by Sparhawk38

    Is this really necessary? The first one was fun....ish. I guess I judge everything by the Iron Giant and the Incredibles now and it makes average seem below average. I can't wait for Wall*E. If it is going to be average...skip the first movie and jump to the sequel, that way we still only get one. Who's with me?...eh?

  • June 22, 2008, 5:26 p.m. CST

    and by "it"...

    by Sparhawk38

    I did not mean "Wall*E" which I believe will be great. and I bet there is no sequel.

  • June 22, 2008, 5:42 p.m. CST

    PLANT!

    by Cletus Van Damme

    ...er, for Tropic Thunder?

  • June 22, 2008, 5:50 p.m. CST

    It's just ONE EARLY REVIEW. WHO CARES?

    by Proman1984

    I HAVE A FELLING THIS WILL ROCK!

  • June 22, 2008, 5:52 p.m. CST

    KurtLockwood

    by BadMrWonka

    that might be the first racist joke that I've ever laughed at.

  • June 22, 2008, 5:53 p.m. CST

    Proman1984

    by BadMrWonka

    I'm sure there are enough mental giants like you to mke this a success no matter how badly it sucks.<p>at least, that's my "felling"...

  • June 22, 2008, 6:06 p.m. CST

    That's "The Incredibles"

    by jimmay

    And you're in a pronounced minority if you think Finding Nemo was a "Steaming turd pile." Pixar's weakest movie--somewhat of a tie between a Bug's Life and Cars--is still leagues more mature and less insulting than any two Dreamworks CG films (exempting perhaps Kung Fu Panda, which I've yet to see, but hear good things about).

  • June 22, 2008, 6:08 p.m. CST

    They make a 69 reference in this movie?

    by terry1978

    Haha...I may have to go just to see reactions.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:09 p.m. CST

    I wait for the upcoming series about the penguins.

    by DerLanghaarige

    Because Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle are producing, so this just can't be bad.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:13 p.m. CST

    The first Madagascar was actually funny.

    by theredtoad

    It was cheeky, kitschy, cheesy, etc. But I loved it.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:26 p.m. CST

    The first one...

    by jsm1978

    wasn't too bad, better than I expected. Definitely had it moments, but doesn't have much value as far as repeat viewings go. Sequel seems rather unneccessary, but we'll see, I suppose.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:30 p.m. CST

    PLANT

    by The Only Woj

    there, I said it

  • June 22, 2008, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Needs more penguins!

    by FILMFUNK

    The vertically challenged cool dudes were the best thing about the first one in fact the christmas short starring the penguins pissed on the whole first movie and it was only 5 minutes long. All the other animals were really anoying dweebs!

  • June 22, 2008, 6:36 p.m. CST

    by Walts_Turning_InTheGrave

    What a dumb fucking review that was…First why does every fucking animated movie have to mention Pixar (the kings of dick)? Do we compare every fucking movie we see to our favorite movie (eg: Godfather). Second, the moron throws “Shark Tale” & “Shrek 2’ into the same shit pile. It’s true that “Shark Tale” was shit but “Shrek 2” was one of the best animated movies made by anyone.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:42 p.m. CST

    Over the Hedge

    by MCVamp

    Often forgotten because it was a licensed adaptation. OTH was damn entertaining, probably the most re-watchable DW CGI effort.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:51 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Over The Hedge rules!

    by Rindain

    Haven't seen Kung Fu Panda yet, but OTH is the best Dreamworks movie out of all the rest.

  • June 22, 2008, 7:14 p.m. CST

    "references to the number "69""

    by Walts_Turning_InTheGrave

    It's the only thing the dickhead remembered after the screening because he's looking for the next place to put his dick in...LOL

  • June 22, 2008, 7:41 p.m. CST

    I liked the first one.

    by FluffyUnbound

    So if the reviewer says it's "as mediocre as" the first one, I'll take it. And my kid fucking LOVES the first one, so I would have to see this even if it was the worst movie ever. I put the first one at about the same level as the first "Ice Age", so all Madagascar 2 has to do to satisfy me is be an "Ice Age 2" type cash-in sequel.

  • June 22, 2008, 7:59 p.m. CST

    I wrote this...

    by animatedreality

    Hey all, wrote this "review"...actually didn't mean for it to be a full blown review at all. It was posted on my private blog as a sort of hit on points type of review. Nothing where I go into story (and if you had not seen the first you would be lost). I also try to keep my posts in a time limit, and I was running late while writing up the blog. Also, didn't compare it to Pixar, as I said at the start I avoided it.

  • June 22, 2008, 8:04 p.m. CST

    Also...

    by animatedreality

    the references to the number 69 I had to put into this. when i first heard it i was couldn't believe it... there is more to the "joke", but still, for who the film is targeted towards it was a bit much. I never really said much about the animation, what was finished (as I said) looked really good. it's the writing that got me, that and there WAS NO plot. They start by leaving where they were stranded (Madagascar) only to end up stranded still at the films end. Ridiculous. Also on Tropic Thunder... I wasn't surprised it was good... but when the test screening runners were explaining the concept beforehand I really was thinking, what the fuck? Up to that screening back in March(?) I had no idea about the film.

  • June 22, 2008, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Replayability is Key

    by Two

    Out of all the movies my children (5 years olds) watch over and over and over again, Madagascar is actually one of the more enjoyable for repeated viewings. Many moments make me laugh even on the 99th viewing. (Namely, anything by Sacha Baron Cohen's King of the Lemurs, and the penguins, of course.) And this after I heard numerous people poo-poo the original film in theaters to the point that I avoided seeing it until rental-time. So I'd automatically discount anyone who opens with "I didn't like the original" to not like the sequel, even if I (or anyone else who liked the original) might very well enjoy it. No point in reviewing the sequel if you did "get" what was funny about the original.

  • June 22, 2008, 8:56 p.m. CST

    I will say it again...

    by Emperor_was_a_jerk

    Kids movie! Maybe if you were 7 you would like this movie since, after all, that is who it was made for.

  • June 22, 2008, 9:11 p.m. CST

    To animatedreality

    by Walts_Turning_InTheGrave

    If you didn’t like the first one maybe you should have excused yourself and given the fucking ticket to someone with an open mind or was it maybe an opportunity for you to bitch slap a kid’s movie to make yourself feel important. BTW, I don’t know but it doesn’t say much about you when you rate a movie like Employee of the Month at 7.5/10 and this one a 2/10.

  • June 22, 2008, 9:24 p.m. CST

    The trailer opens with CLOSE-UPS OF ANIMATED ASSES

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    I never even bothered to see the original (ugly character designs, celeb-choked voice cast), so I have no desire to see this. Kung Fu Panda will likely be an abberation in the Dreamworks canon.

  • June 22, 2008, 9:27 p.m. CST

    every other movie might be a miss from here?

    by MsQue

    i have a sneaking suspicion that now that dreamworks has been keeping two separate teams, so that 2 movies are always in production. Might it be that the seasoned team is on one side to make higher quality movies, while the other pumps out the stuff like sequels and fart joke movies. i am really looking forward to monsters vs aliens(http://www.monstersvsaliens.com/), which i'm guessing is the team that worked on kung fu panda. it's out next spring. i'm probably way off base on this, because it would be the dumbest game plan for a studio to have, but i'm just noticing a trend.

  • June 22, 2008, 9:29 p.m. CST

    supertoyslast

    by The Funketeer

    Tropic Thunder could be surprisingly good because it stars Ben Stiller who's had more than his share of stinkers.

  • June 22, 2008, 9:31 p.m. CST

    To quote Billy West...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    "Guys like me can't get a job, but they've GOTTA have David Schwimmer."

  • June 22, 2008, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Ummm

    by Series7

    Was there any chances of this not sucking? Madagasgar 1 was probably the worst animated movie I've ever seen, and I've even seen the Wild.

  • June 22, 2008, 10:28 p.m. CST

    i just dont see how kung fu panda is good

    by BurgerKing

    I haven't seen it, but from the trailers, the concept alone, it just is stupid as hell? Shrek was great, it's concept was good, similar to Pixar movies who have unique and well thoughtout concepts. So, what is good about Panda? Maybe the writing is Oscar caliber? I don't know, anyone fill me in?

  • June 22, 2008, 10:30 p.m. CST

    Open mind

    by animatedreality

    Okay, first off, I love watching many "kids" movies... but they when they try too hard to make adults happy with unneeded jokes, then it goes down hill for me. this film just seemed aimless to me, it went too many directions at once. yeah i gave EotM a 7.5, but really, that movie suprised me... and i enjoyed watching it all the way through. no it wasn't the best, and I would never say it was. reviews are opinion, every single one you will ever read is just that. so why get so hurt over what i have to say? some people will love this film i am sure. as i said it hads it's moments, but when those moments are with secondary characters, then... again, i never said, "everyone should avoid this movie". i just out my opinion down. don't act as if you don't enjoy/dislike films that everyone else hates/likes. it doesn't make you right, just as this doens't make me "right". it's just what I thought of it. if it makes you feel better, if i watched the first one again, i would probably give it a 5 or 6. it was much more solid then this broken film's story. that, and i really, really enjoyed Panda. One of the better CGI animated movies I have seen. my opinion =/= your opinion.

  • June 22, 2008, 10:35 p.m. CST

    on panda

    by animatedreality

    i'm not sure why panda was so good to me. it was just very enjoyable, told one solid story, and was pretty unique. so was shrek (which i have no issue with)... it's just when movies are there to be cash-ins. there is something i just can't get my head around when these talented artists are making things that are huge let downs. also on this being a kids movie... again sometimes it tried to hard to be "a movie parents will enjoy with their kids". the jokes never seemed to go with both, but were polarized towards one group or the other.

  • June 22, 2008, 10:35 p.m. CST

    on panda

    by animatedreality

    i'm not sure why panda was so good to me. it was just very enjoyable, told one solid story, and was pretty unique. so was shrek (which i have no issue with)... it's just when movies are there to be cash-ins. there is something i just can't get my head around when these talented artists are making things that are huge let downs. also on this being a kids movie... again sometimes it tried to hard to be "a movie parents will enjoy with their kids". the jokes never seemed to go with both, but were polarized towards one group or the other.

  • June 22, 2008, 10:42 p.m. CST

    It needs to end with a giant explotion

    by Mr. Monkey

    and also include a gigantic mechanical spider

  • June 22, 2008, 11:14 p.m. CST

    shrek 2

    by vassilis

    ..sucked ass!! I can't believe people liked the movie. Yes, there were some good moments, but no plot or pathos or agony or nothing. Nothing but jokes (some good ones admittedly). I suspect this is what you hate animatedreality and I hate it too..

  • June 22, 2008, 11:15 p.m. CST

    Shrek 2 was terrific...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    ...and Shrek 3 better than the drubbing it received. Shrek 4, however, is pushing it.

  • June 23, 2008, 7:28 a.m. CST

    Madagascar was a good flick

    by Abominable Snowcone

    for kids. My son and daughter love it, and I've tolerated repeat viewings rather well, frankly because I think Ben Stiller and Sasha Baron Cohen turned in solid performances. It was NOT a ripoff of Lion King. That movie was about a lion cub who is ostracized by evil forces, and must mature and realize his destiny as leader of his pride. Madagascar is about a group of silly animals who've lived their whole lives in a zoo, but wind up in the wild and must cope with it, which is especially hard for Alex the Lion, whose primal instincts never had a chance to thrive. Madagascar is a KIDS movie, and a good one at that. Don't go looking for much more in it.

  • June 23, 2008, 7:32 a.m. CST

    Re: Emerpor & kids movie

    by Sequitur

    That is not a viable excuse to make crap. My son is 8 and even though when we go see thse DW films he seems to enjoy them...he forgets them after awhile. He's not even interested in getting them on DVD. Pixar, on the other had, he writes on his calendar whne the next one is coming out. He watched them over and over on DVD (even Cars).

  • June 23, 2008, 7:59 a.m. CST

    the first one was hopelessly lazy

    by newc0253

    a textbook example of cookie-cutter animation:<p>celebrity voices? check.<p> pop culture references? check.<p> animal kingdom used as satire for modern life? check.<p> besides, the Lion doesn't eat meat? how frakked up was that?<p>

  • June 23, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST

    The lion eats "meat"...

    by Two

    ...he just doesn't realize that those nice little "steaks" they feed him in the zoo happen to be other animals (Soylent Green comes to mind. "It's people!") until he's in the wild. In the end he doesn't go vegan, just vegetarian -- he shifts to sushi. (Yes, this is possibly a stretch but that's called comedy.)<p> The bottom line with this review is it should have the bold-faced disclaimer of "I didn't like the first one, so I didn't like this one." I'd think it would take liking the original to have a chance at liking a sequel. And some folks (and tons of kids) did enjoy the original.

  • June 23, 2008, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Considering

    by toxicbuddha

    that the first one was at best mediocre, it is hardly earth shaking to hear that the second is allegedly lame.

  • June 23, 2008, 9:27 a.m. CST

    Kung Fu Panda was a fluke.

    by sonic3305

    What was that Petty song, Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes

  • June 23, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST

    I saw MAdagascar 2 as well, and actually liked it BETTER than th

    by ronniepooch

    But that's just my opinion folks.

  • June 23, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST

    an the first. :-)

    by ronniepooch

  • June 23, 2008, 11:17 a.m. CST

    GO FUCK YOURSELF

    by Jabroni

    Does every fucking movie have to be the end all of creation. How about your bitter movie hating ass stays home when you are tapped to see a god damned kids movie. Cartoons are loaded with references that kids might not get, but as you might know you whach something over the years you get more jokes. The Muppets are like that, Bugs Bunny is like that. The first Madagascar is pretty funny, not sure what you expect. As for Panda, I saw that this weekend and my son (who's almost 3) made it though 60 minutes of it. The movie looks great, and even the fights are cool, but there are some slow spots in it. There were several kids in the audience that got restless before the 3rd act kicked in. But I did enjoy it. If Madagascar 2 was like "Panda" you would have shit in that as well.

  • June 23, 2008, 11:32 a.m. CST

    The Lion King was released in 1994

    by Gengar

    GIYF

  • June 23, 2008, 1:06 p.m. CST

    How about a Two Girls One Cup reference for the kidz?

    by christian66

    That kind of "69" joke is exactly what's soulless and cynical and wretched about Dreamworks cookie-cutter crap. Imagine a group of Silverlake Hollywood hipsters sitting around a table thinking of ways to purge any sense of wonder from their films and you have the typical non-Pixar animated film. Shame on you Dreamworks. Get a heart.

  • June 23, 2008, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Does it end with a UFO?

    by wowsucks

    The first one had funny parts, but overall was ok and a solid C - C+ flick. Sounds like Dream works might be going for the ever famous old Disney formula; cash and run!

  • June 23, 2008, 4 p.m. CST

    Should have been...

    by stuatfunnyordie

    Sacha Baron Cohen and the penguins leaving the island and having cool adventures across the US...that would have been pretty fucking cool, because, as we all know, they were the two very BEST aprts of the first one...

  • June 23, 2008, 5:24 p.m. CST

    Panda worked because...

    by minderbinder

    It was well executed, period. The script is really solid, they actually studied many kung fu movies and came up with great clever, exciting action sequences. The characters are interesting, the plot and dialogue is very well done, the humor is very funny without resorting to any pop-culture crap, and the action is dead on. Heck, I'd say the movie is worth seeing for the intro alone, done with traditional 2D. It really looks like they set out to raise the bar to the standard Pixar has generally set, and I'd say they succeeded better than I would have ever expected. They even have clever (and subtle) stuff going on during the end credits. Sure, it seems like a simple, dumb, idea...but once you see it, you'll totally understand why it has some of the best reviews of the year.

  • June 23, 2008, 9:07 p.m. CST

    that is one of the worst reviews i've ever read

    by Maclovin

    seriously, if you're going to have an opinion, learn how to write. You kept going over the same points, that review could have been written in a paragraph.

  • June 23, 2008, 11:47 p.m. CST

    All things considered...

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    ...I'd rather sit through this than Disaster Movie.

  • June 24, 2008, 12:25 a.m. CST

    Obviously a credible reivew

    by kolchak

    "This is just bad, guys. Uh...I don't know where to start...so I won't start at all. It's just bad. No reason."

  • June 24, 2008, 2:25 a.m. CST

    If this one is as SHITTY as the 1st

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:26 a.m. CST

    If this one is as SHITTY as the 1st

    by tme2nsb

    Then kill me now. Funny parts: Penguins. King Julian, King of Lemurs. THAT IS IT.

  • June 24, 2008, 2:26 a.m. CST

    Madagascar Part Shit Deux

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:26 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Shitter than the first

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Ben Stiller's Blow Job

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Because Bee Movie wasn't bad enough!

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Watch this movie, please!

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Writers on Vacation

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: ShittIer than the first

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Dear god, let it end!

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Madagascar, Too?

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:29 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: Subtitled Shitfest

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:29 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: The search for mo' suck

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST

    Madagascar 2: I'd rather see Harry naked

    by tme2nsb

  • June 24, 2008, 6:45 a.m. CST

    OTH Rules?! Really?

    by tvspace

    I thought Over the Hedge was terrible! It never got more than a slight chuckle in the theater. The only things that made Madagascar watchable were the penguins and Sacha Baron Cohen's King Julien. Stiller, Rock, Pinkett-Smith, and Schwimmer wasted their time.

  • June 24, 2008, 9:47 a.m. CST

    DUDE, THOSE ANIMALS ARE SO FUCKING FUNNY

    by Anakin Whoopass

    RUMSFELD!