Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age 3

  • Released Internationally on 01/07/09
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 01/07/09
Showing in RealD (3D) at Empire Cinemas, Bugibba, and 2D elsewhere

In an acorn shell

In 2002 we were introduced to the unlikely team composed of a mammoth, a sloth and a sabre-toothed cat, as they migrated across prehistoric earth to avoid the ice age. Their path was crossed by the wordless, but highly frustrated Scrat, some sort of sabre-toothed squirrel without lady luck on his side. In 2006 they had a Meltdown, and now they’re sharing the screen with other prehistoric beasts.

Creature comforts

The odd but amusing match of species that were such a hit the first time around are all still here, and voiced by the same actors. Ray Romano (of Everybody Loves Raymond fame) is Manny, an insecure woolly mammoth who this time is on the brink of fatherhood because Ellie (Queen Latifah, Chicago, Stranger Than Fiction) is expecting. One of the new characters in the second instalment, she returns with a prominent role and adds a necessary female touch to proceedings. John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge!, The Happening) is Sid the sloth, whose noble intentions make up for his simple nature. Envying Manny’s upcoming family role, he covets three eggs he stumbles upon, and ends up the unlikely father of three baby T-Rexs, whose natural mother is highly unamused. Diego the big cat (Denis Leary – The Thomas Crown Affair) is losing his edge as a predator, and leaves the pack to go seeking adventure, but he soon realises that he already had all the excitement he needs.

In with the new

Despite Scrat being possibly the most amusing element of the first film, his antics have now started to wear thin, and this film introduces a female counterpart to spice up the proceedings. Despite the filmmakers’ best efforts, however, Scrat remains nothing but a subplot, and a repetitive and eventually annoying one at that. On the other hand, the main new character, Buck the weasel, is fresher and much more interesting. Brought to life by the wonderful Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Shaun of the Dead), his daredevil ways help the other characters navigate through the dinosaur’s habitat in one piece. He too starts to grow tedious, however, and the character isn’t exploited well enough due to a simplistic and often flat script.

Harmless amusement

Fine art, this is not. And nowadays we’ve come to expect much more from major animated releases, with DreamWorks and Pixar managing to meld powerful storytelling and subtle humour for adults with fun and spectacle for the little ones. This offering veers more towards the latter, with lots of physical humour and crude jokes, but not much depth or soul. Not to mention the confusing evolutionary timeline and geographical layout of the iced world in question.

In the end

Kids will probably love it, and everyone should manage a chuckle or two, but not even the cute baby mammoths and dinosaurs save this franchise from feeling overstretched.


Trailer: (High-Res QuickTime)

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