Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs **1/2

Director: Carlos Saldanha

Unlike the era they take their title from, each of the "Ice age" sequels proves to be more inconsequential than the previous one. This time around, family is the word as woolly mammoths Manny and Ellie (voiced by Ray Romano and Queen Latifah respectively) are expecting their first child.
Meanwhile saber toothed tiger Diego (voiced by Denis Leary) wonders if he fits with this unorthodox herd as he feels he's losing his instincts. Sid the sloth begins to feel lonely and "adopts" three dinosaur eggs to feel safe.
When the dinosaur's mother, an angry Tyrannosaurus Rex, comes to the rescue of her children she takes Sid with them down to an underground world, preserved under the ice, where dinosaurs roam in the free and lava waterfalls are as common as gigantic animal eating plants.
The whole herd comes to the rescue and are aided by Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg) a crazy weasel with a Captain Ahab complex.
This is one of those movies where the search is always filled with troubles and adventure, while getting back home takes under ten seconds (obviously it would take forever if they found inconveniences on both ways, but it would be awesome if sometime they tried this...), you know how the film will end after the first five minutes.
They will have epiphanies, near death encounters (but how do you kill a cute, fuzzy prehistoric animal?) and as many sentimental moments and speeches as they see fit to include.
But the truth is that there's nothing inherently wrong with "Ice Age", even this predictability seems to be an asset, especially because the main plot is often balanced by the film's real stars: saber toothed squirrel Scrat who is now torn between the love for his acorn and Scratte, a femme-fatale with killer eyelashes and concealed abilities.
Every time the plot begins to drag, and it often does, the filmmakers wisely take us to one of Scrat's misadventures which erupt instantaneous laughter (even if some of the best were spoiled in the trailer).
It's a shame that the story with the herd is never as involving and exciting as the one with Scrat, especially because technique wise, the film shows clear evolution from its predecessors.
However they use too many anachronistic references and the "Moby Dick" reference is plain screenwriting laziness.
But just as you're thinking how dumb the movie feels, you start humming Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", which becomes Scrat's theme song, and the film feels a little less like a fossil...

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