As a cub, Alex the Lion was called Alakay and was the son of Zuba, the alpha lion. Though Zuba tries to teach Alakay to be a hunter, the cub is more interested in dancing, and is captured by poachers when Makunga, Zuba’s rival, challenges Zuba to a fight for the position of alpha lion. Alakay is forced into a crate, and though Zuba tries to rescue his son, he is shot in the ear and fails. The crate falls into the ocean where it drifts to New York. There, Alakay is renamed Alex and sent to the Central Park Zoo where he grew up, meeting Marty, Melman, and Gloria. The events of the first film are then described through a series of news flashes.
In the present time, Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, King Julien, Maurice, the chimpanzees, Skipper and his fellow penguins board a repaired airplane in the hopes of using it to fly back to New York. Mort tries to board the plane but King Julien doesn’t want him on board and locks him outside. The plane takes off and starts with a relaxing journey. Alex later spots Mort clinging to the wing of the plane and waves to him (causing Mort to wave back and fall off the wing into the sea). The plane soon ends up crash-landing in continental Africa when it runs out of fuel. In Africa the animals are amazed to find more of their kind. Alex is reunited with Zuba and his mother. Marty quickly fits in with a herd of zebra who all look, sound, and talk exactly like him. Melman takes on the position of witch doctor amongst the animals. Gloria, interested in finding a mate, attracts the attention of a smooth-talking but shallow hippo named Moto Moto.
Meanwhile, the penguins set about repairing the plane. They carjack several jeeps from New Yorkers on vacation under “Operation Tourist Trap”, leaving the tourists stranded and lost in the jungle. Taking charge of the group is Nana, a tough old woman known for having beaten up Alex before he was first shipped out of New York in the first film, reminding them that they are New Yorkers and survivors.
The next morning Mort washes up on the shore of Africa and sets off to find King Julien, chased by a hungry shark.
Unfortunately, life in Africa is not as wonderful as it first seemed. Makunga, still determined to take the position of alpha lion, reminds Zuba that Alex must complete a traditional lion coming-of-age challenge that he did not complete. Alex, thinking that the challenge is a dance contest (it is actually a fight) competes against the strongest lion, Teetsie (who was recommended by Makunga) and loses quickly. To avoid being forced to banish his own son for failing, Zuba relinquishes his title as Alpha lion. Makunga immediately takes the position and banishes Alex and his family, much to Zuba’s anger at Alex. Marty, meanwhile, begins to feel upset that all of the zebras are exactly the same as him, leaving him with nothing unique. Melman is happy as a witch doctor until he learns that he has the same spot that had apparently caused the previous witch doctor to die. Melman is also upset about Gloria dating Moto Moto, as Melman has secretly loved her for a long time. Gloria goes on a date with Moto Moto, in a lake, and quickly realizes that he only loves her for her body.
The next day, the animals are in a panic when they discover that the watering hole has dried up. Determined to make up for his earlier failure, Alex and Marty decide to risk being shot by hunters and leave the reserve to discover what has happened. The pair discover that the stranded New Yorkers, under the instruction of Nana, have dammed up the river and built a primitive civilization. Alex is subsequently captured by a trap, causing Marty to abandon him to seek help. Meanwhile, Zuba hears from Makunga what Alex did and goes to rescue him.
Back on the reserve, King Julien suggests that the animals sacrifice one of themselves at the volcano to appease the water gods and regain their water supply. Believing that he will die soon, Melman volunteers to be sacrificed. Gloria stops him just in time and Marty arrives to tell them about Alex. The trio, the penguins, and several chimpanzees use the newly-fixed plane to execute a rescue.
However, Alex has already managed to rescue both himself and his father by dancing for the New Yorkers, who quickly recognize him from the zoo. The other animals arrive to pick them up with the plane, and together they all destroy the dam, freeing the water.
Meanwhile, back at the volcano, King Julien complains to Maurice about the sacrifice plan not working (“The science seemed so solid”). Mort turns up and is overjoyed to see King Julien, although Julien is less than thrilled to see him. The shark that was chasing Mort also arrives but falls into the volcano, completing the sacrifice (with Maurice saying “I hope the gods like Seafood”) and causing King Julien to think that he brought back the water.
As the watering hole restores, Makunga angrily reminds Alex and Zuba that all this won’t change anything. However, Alex manages to remove Makunga from power by tricking Nana into attacking him, and she drags him back to the other marooned tourists. Zuba steps down from being Alpha Lion, giving the position to Alex, but Alex in turn refuses, resulting in both father and son becoming the leaders.
The movie ends as Skipper marries a bobble-head hula doll from the plane and leaves on a honeymoon in Monte Carlo with the chimpanzees, and a huge tub of diamonds and gold, leaving Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria to happily remain in Africa with Alex’s parents.
It isn’t very often that a sequel lives up to or surpasses it’s predecessor, but Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa happens to do just that.
The original Madagascar is one of the best animated films I’ve seen to come out of a studio not named Pixar, and the sequel takes everything that worked for that film and improves on it.
When you set out to set a CGI animated film in the lush landscapes of Africa, you better be ready to get the details down to the last..um…detail. The animators did an excellent job of making the audience belive they were in Africa. Did I happen to mention they did this without the use of 3D?
The relationship between the characters is just as magical as the first, though there is a bit of staleness between Alex and Marty. What I mean by that is in the first film Marty got his panties all twisted about something Alex did or didn’t do and the same happens here. If/when they make a third film, they need to not use this plot device a third time. On the flipside, Melman’s love for Gloria and his fear of telling her is still there, but it is cute, so I have no issues with them using it again.
The comedic timing of these actors is great. There are no jokes that would go over a kid’s head, yet at the same time the film doesn’t seem so dumbed down that older viewers would be bored to tears.
The voice casting is terrific. Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Boren Cohen, and Cedric the Entertainer all reprise their roles and are joined by Alec Baldwin, will.i.am, Sherri Shepherd, and the late Bernie Mac. None of them give anything less than their best. Having said that, a herd of Chris Rock zebras is a nightmare!
Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa is good fun for the whole family. The humor, animation, and everything about this flick make it quite enjoyable for everyone. I would have liked for there to have been more of the penguins, but since they have their own show now, I guess I shouldn’t complain. I highly recommend this to everyone, so go check it out!
5 out of 5 stars