Tag Archives: DreamWorks

DVD Review: “The Penguins of Madagascar-Operation: DVD Premiere”

Who could have imagined that the Penguin characters from the two Madagascar film would spin off to their own animated series so successfully? In both films, the characters were essentially comic relief, thrown in as a “C” story that pretty much had nothing with the main plots until they show up at the end to rejoin the rest of the escaped zoo animals. Yet, in their own show, the penguins not only carry the show, but they are funny and enjoyable for parents and kids alike.

The Nickelodeon series has been on the air nearly a year now and it’s a big hit for the network. So, in true fashion of the marketing savvy network, Nickelodeon has released Operation: DVD Premiere, the first “feature length” DVD with over two hours of entertainment. The DVD is a collection of some of the Penguins best adventures, as well as a brand new, never-before-seen special, “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge,” and two never- before-seen episodes, “Truth Ache” and “Command Crisis.” On a side note, I know that Nick plans to air “Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge” on President’s Day. I don’t understand the logic in advertising something as “never-before-seen” for just one week before putting in on television. I digress.

The set up for the show is simple: The Penguins, that is Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private, are back living at the New York City Zoo. Even though they are residents in the zoo, that doesn’t mean they’re confined behind bars. Instead, they have plenty of crazy adventures within the zoo and outside it. Along for the fun are three characters they never lived in the zoo in the films: King Julien, the insane lemur, originally voiced by Sacha Baren Cohen, by on television capably handled by Danny Jacobs, Maurice, an aye aye who is Julien’s trusty servant, and Mort, the accident mouse lemur who is the brunt of Julien’s contempt.

Supporting characters on hand to fill the absence of the main Madagascar characters include Marlene, an otter whose character is solely new to the series, plus Mason and Phil, the two chimpanzees from the films.

“Dr. Blowhole’s Revenge” is a funny, “save the world” adventure that finds the Penguins pitted against the evil Dr. Blowhole, an angry dolphin who gets around on a Segway. Dr. Blowhole plans to melt the North Pole in order to flood the earth as payback to humans for making him perform tricks in a ring of fire. Making matters worse for the Penguins is the fact that Julien has teamed up with Blowhole. The nefarious Blowhole is voiced by guest-star Neil Patrick Harris (who seems to be everywhere these days) and he has a good time with the role. Like most animation being produced these days, the adult behind the creation of the show often slip in a little bit of safe grown-up humor to make the show enjoyable for parents, as well as their kids.

The other two episodes, “Truth Ache” and “Command Crisis” fit right in with the seven other episodes included on this DVD, all of which have previously aired on Nickelodeon. As for bonus features, they aren’t much. But you shouldn’t expect too much when you’re buying TV episodes on a single disc like this one, anyway. There are trailers for upcoming Dreamworks animated features, Nick animated show and a couple of online games. Like I said, it isn’t much. Still, if you have a Penguin or King Julien fan in your house (child or adult) then this DVD is a worthwhile investment.

DVD Review: “Madagascar 2:Escape to Aftrica”

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa picks up where the first Madagascar left off: with the main characters, Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) trying to get home to New York after their adventure on the island of Madagascar. In the sequel, the four friends, along with those ingenious penguins, the two monkeys, Mason and Phil, that wacky lemur, King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his sidekick, Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), wind up in the African outback, their original destination from the first film.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is just as good as the first one and even surpasses it in the emotions department. On the whole, it’s a suitable family film all around, nothing too scary and nothing too gross or adult in its humor. The movie opens with a brief prologue explaining Alex’s beginnings and how he wound up in New York City. As a cub, he was Alekey, son of Zuba (Bernie Mac), the alpha lion in their pride. We find Zuba trying to teach his young son how to be a fighter, but the little one just wants to dance and chance butterflies, like most young human children.

In this opening, we also meet Makunga (Alec Baldwin), Zuba’s nemesis. Zuba is a burr in Zuba’s side and this early confrontation between the two of them sets up Alex’s story arc for the rest of the film. While Zuba and Makunga wrestle, Alekey is stolen by poachers and tossed and a wooden crate. A dramatic, heart wrenching chase sequence ensues in which the lion father tries to rescue his son, but to no avail. However, Alekey does not wind up with the poachers. His crate tumbles into the river and drifts into the ocean, eventually ending up in New York City. The cub is placed in the zoo, where young Marty, Gloria and Melman are already residing. We watch as Alekey becomes Alex the lion and then we quickly get a refreshed of most of the first movie’s events. Continue reading