We've seen the first 40 mins of Madagascar

Chris Rock stole the show as DreamWorks showed select media the first 40 minutes of its summer animated Blockbuster "Madagascar".

The "Madagascar" drinks created for the occasion were free-flowing as the food, but as we settled down with intros by a ravishing Jada Pinkett-Smith and a brilliantly acerbic Chris Rock, to see the first half of what has the potential to be a delightful animated film with some sharp, dazzling CGI visuals, showing some true depth of field. The movie focuses on four residents and "stars" of the Central Park Zoo in New York City who are also best friends: a lion (Ben Stiller), a zebra (Chris Rock), a giraffe (David Schwimmer) and at hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith). When one of them goes missing, the other three break out of the zoo looking for him, and eventually all four are captured and put in boxes to ship them back to the continent their species are originally from: Africa. An accident at sea, however, strands them on the shore of Madagascar. Having had humans take care of them their entire life, the four know nothing of surviving in the wild, or that one of them, the lion, is genetically predisposed to eat his three best friends. Exploring their surroundings, the four friends soon meet the Malagasy locals (a type of lemur given to having loud "rave-like" dance parties) and their carnivorous enemies, the fousas. As the two sides try to use these four new, strange (and large) friends to their benefit, our heroes are also confronted with the reality of their predestined roles in nature.

Audiences at the special event were only teased with a mere 40 minutes of this fun-filled animal caper and it is clear by initial reaction, that DreamWorks, whose last animated CGI feature "Shark Tale" received scathing reviews, may have a bona fide hit on its hand. Comic and visually stylish, "Madagascar" is a film to look forward to as the summer season begins to gradually rear its ugly head.

MADAGASCAR OPENS ON MAY 27.

- PAUL FISCHER