Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D/ dir. Carlos Saldanha/ 2009
I enjoyed the original Ice Age. The story of a rag tag group trying to reunite a baby with his human parents during the Ice Age was at the very least, entertaining. Plus in 2002, CG animated films were just starting to trickle in, so there was still a little novelty in the CG animated movie. The sequel, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, yeah I watched it, but to be completely honest, I can not recall what the plot of that movie was. All I remember was that Queen Latifah played the female wooly mammoth. So that pretty much explains my experiences with the Ice Age franchise. So when I decided to make Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D (Ice Age 3) my early Sunday morning movie, I really had no expectations. I did hear some comments from animation students and teachers saying that it was “the best of the 3 Ice Age movies,” but my response was “eh, we’ll see…”
Well, to my pleasant surprise, Ice Age 3 delivered an entertaining movie with some great comedic moments. I still give the nod to the OG Ice Age film, since it was, you know, the ORIGINAL, but Ice Age 3 is a good family/ children’s flick that I’m pretty sure the kids will enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, Ice Age 3 was mostly family kid-friendly fluff, but it was entertaining family fluff and I’m pretty sure that was the point.
Ice Age 3 focuses on what happens to a group of buddies once one of them starts a family. The Woolly Mammoths, Manny (Ray Ramano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah), are expecting their first born, and Diego the Sabretooth tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) are trying to cope with change. Diego decides to go off on his own and become a loner, and Sid has aspirations of being a parent himself. Eventually Sid finds some T-Rex eggs and raises them as his own, that is until mommy comes looking for them. Sid and the baby T-rexes are dragged to a lost world underneath the ice, and Manny, Ellie, and Diego must go and save Sid.
John Leguizamo as Sid steals the first 1/3 of the movie, with his funny attempts at parenthood with the T-rex babies. In fact, John Leguizamo could have been the big comedic stand out through the film, as eventually, he and the mommy t-rex act like a bickering, yet loving, married couple for the rest of the film. However, Simon Pegg’s performance as Buck, the crazy weasel who lives and knows how to survive in the lost world, really steals the show. In fact, the dialogue between all the characters was witty, hilarious, and when it had to be, it was quite touching. Unlike some other animated movies this year, Ice Age 3‘s comedic timing and jokes mostly hit their mark, and I found myself LOLing in an empty theater.
In terms of animation, and I may be a little biased since many of my fellow students and alumni of Animation Mentor worked on this film, was stunning and beautifully done. Characters moved with a fluidness and crispness that I found refreshing. And the arcs, especially in the sequences with the squirrels, really stood out and made the animation that much more pleasurable to look at. And the 3D, well I think I’m warming up to the idea of 3D more since, for the first time since Coraline, I felt the 3D added to the immersiveness of this animated world.
So, Ice Age 3 was entertaining, had great visuals and animation, and using my own personal experiences of friends getting married and starting families while I still had my bachelor lifestyle, I could totally relate what Diego and Sid were going through. The only problem with Ice Age 3 (which was also a problem that plagued the first two Ice Age films) was that it was missing substance. Meaning it was entertaining, but it was just family, kid friendly fluff. Yeah, there were some touching moments here and there, but nothing that really made you feel the emotions of the moment. Maybe I’m being too harsh on a good film that is geared toward family and children. In that case, this film is stellar and is a definite must see for families with young children. But since Ice Age 3 was so fun and entertaining, I kind of wanted a Pixar-like deep emotional attachment to complete my experience.
Much like Kung-Fu Panda last year, Ice Age 3 is an enjoyable film with beautiful animation that I highly recommend, but it lacked that certain something to push it to the next level. In fact, I think that Ice Age 3 is this year’s Kung- Fu Panda.