Thursday, July 16, 2009

Movie Review:Ice Age, Dawn of the Dinosaurs

The Ice Age franchise is now in its 3rd installment and, as with most franchises, there have been certain changes. Remember in the first Ice Age how Diego (Denis Leary) was a fierce, dangerous foe for Manny (Ray Romano)?

Remember how Manny himself was a capable fighter when the need arose?

Remember how Sid (John Leguizmo) was really annoying yet somehow endearing?

Remember in the second one how fun the Possum twins were?

Meet the new Ice Age where Manny and Diego are cowards, Sid has lost his annoying ways and is now lacking that sweetness edge, and the new "cool factor" is supplied by Buck (Simon Pegg), the death-defying super-hero/klutz who battles Rudy the Dinosaur...a character so fierce that Manny and Diego have gone from characters who did what was necessary to fear-driven, unfunny guys.

Fortunately, there is still a lot of humor in this new edition. While not quite as original or fun as the first two, it is still a fast-paced, warm-hearted romp through the world of pre-history.

The jokes are, if not as plentiful as in the first two, still funny and the characters still have that little something that makes you want to see how their story turns out. The story arc is entertaining and the resolution everything you are looking for.

I was slightly disappointed with this movie because I loved the first two so much and that indicated to me that this was a franchise dedicated to putting out quality stories instead of trading on franchise recognizability.

I think part of it might be because they have added too much. In the first movie, there were really only three characters they followed; Manny, Sid and Diego. It was their story.

In the second movie, they added Ellie (Queen Latifah), Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck).  

There was still time to explore their characters and relationships, each character was central for a while.

Now, they added Buck, the Dinosaur babies, and left out a lot of the stuff we wanted to see. No Crash and Eddie antics, no Diego-as-force-of-nature, Manny mostly as a bumbling, fearful father, no Ellie as a possum type humor...

Yet it was still fun and entertaining. The Scrat (Chris Wedge) and Scratte (Karen Disher) storyline was a bigger part of the movie and had its own arc which was very, very well done. Buck picked up a lot of the Crash/Eddie type moments. They cribbed a bit from Shrek with the Sid/dinosaur mom story, but that was okay.

Overall, if you like cartoons and good stories, you cannot go wrong going to see Ice Age. Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, it was worth the trip.