Sunday, 5 July 2009

Movie Review - Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

I loved the first Ice Age movie and liked the second (Ice Age: The Meltdown), but really wasn't quite sure if the third movie was going to be taking a good idea too far. In the recent past two trilogies come to mind where I really enjoyed the first and second films, but the third turned out to be awful or mediocre (Spiderman and X-Men). I'm happy to say that in the case of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, after a slightly awkward start the movie was a riot right up to the end.

Basically we have three stories running concurrently in this movie: Sid, the pursuit of Sid, and Scrat & Scratte. Sid the sloth wants a family of his own, finds some apparently abandoned eggs and inadvertently hatches three baby dinosaurs (which the rest of the animals had thought were extinct), and is taken away by the real mother who is understandably a bit miffed. Manny, with baby on the way and intent on alienating himself from everyone by being a complete idiot (that's how it came across to me, anyway) and the gang go after Sid with varying levels of enthusiasm. Then there is Scrat, the little creature with his mind forever fixed on that elusive acorn... but he meets more than his match in Scratte, a female flying fox who uses her feminine wiles and more to get the acorn herself. Their story occasionally flits into the other stories, and it could well end in love... well, sort of.

There is a notable new character in Dawn of the Dinosaurs in the form of Buck, a one-eyed weasel voiced with great energy by Simon Pegg. Having lived with the dinosaurs for years, he's unshakable, jungle-savvy and seemingly impossible to kill. Without his help Manny, Ellie, Crash and Eddie (gotta love those crazy possums) and Diego could never survive the harsh environment their quest to take Sid takes them... but is he more help than harm, or does he have a more sinister motive?

The movie starts of with Scrat's first meeting of Scratte and leads up to Sid's finding the eggs without really getting up a full head of steam. I found some of the dialogue and particularly Manny's attitude problems more annoying than funny. The opening scenes therefore added to my feeling about what the movie was going to be like; once the baby dinosaurs come onto the scene, however, Ice Age 3 hurtles into top gear and never slows down. There are some great action sequences (the best being a chase scene with Buck, Crash and Eddie flying a pterodactyl), lots of humour - a slight over-reliance on slapstick perhaps but even some of that was genuinely funny), some great dialogue and a clever plot that makes you think it's predictable and suddenly springs a surprise on you. The humour worked for children and adults alike, some obviously for different reasons, but at times the kids were laughing hard at dialogue they couldn't possibly have understood, so there must have been an underlying current of humour that they picked up on that didn't require perception of the dialogue to enjoy.

The animation was amazing - the level of detail, fluidity of movement, everything was just superb. It's difficult to imagine just how computer animation could possibly get better than it is at the moment, but I'm sure there'll be new ways to amaze us in the future. We watched it in 3D and it's worth doing that if available in your area, if only to hear the reaction of the younger children in the audience. The movie will be wonderfully entertaining in 2D as well, of course. It sounds as good as it looks with a great music score by John Powell and fantastic voice acting by Ray Romano (Manny), Queen Latifah (Ellie), Denis Leary (Diego), John Leguizamo (Sid), Seann William Scott (Crash) and Josh Peck (Eddie).

There are a few slightly rude jokes and a couple of scenes that might be scary for very small children, which earn Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs a PG Rating. It lasts for 94 minutes, of which 80 are pure gold in terms of entertainment value. Somehow it feels very different from the first Ice Age film - a good decision as it would have felt stale otherwise. I'm not sure if people who didn't like the other Ice Age films will enjoy it, but if you did, you're certainly going to have fun watching Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Related Links:

Ice Age: The Meltdown review
My Top Ten Animated Movies
My Top Ten Computer-Animated Movies

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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