Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Directed by: Carlos Saldanha Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Simon Pegg Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: PG Release Date: July 1, 2009
Plot: Manny (Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) are expecting a little mammoth. Lost in preparations, the herd begins to disintegrate. Then Sid (Leguizamo) steals some T-Rex eggs and before he knows it, is whisked off to a subterranean dinosaur haven. He's about to become a sloth burger, so the rest of the herd heads off after him with the help of a weasel that's out of his mind (Pegg).
Who’s It For? Did you see either of the first two Ice Age movies? What if you could splice The Land Before Time in the middle and make it 3D? If that sounds good, then yeah, you'll like this.
Expectations: I really enjoyed the first Ice Age movie, and the second as well, to a lesser extent. I wasn't expecting much this time around. Hopefully some decent Scrat humor (the little Saber-toothed squirrel with the nut obsession) but that's it.
Ray Romano as Manny: This is Romano's third outing as Manny, the grumpy but lovable woolly mammoth who's the de facto leader of his motley herd. His moments as a nervous father-to-be are entertaining, but other than that it's mostly a retread of the other movies. Manny is sarcastic, then he says something mean, then he's contrite. The pattern repeats itself over the whole film, much like it did over the past two films. There's nothing new here. Score: 4
Denis Leary as Diego: Diego really has no character arc in this one. I'm pretty sure that Leary just did this film for the paycheck. OK, probably the last one too. There's some talk about Diego leaving because there's no place for him in Manny's new family, but it feels arbitrary. It's just there to remind us that Diego has a reason to be around. I love Leary, but this isn't his best moment. Score: 4
John Leguizamo as Sid: Despite having done this before, twice, Leguizamo's totally entertaining as Sid. With his unusual combination of ADHD and dissociative disorder, Sid lives in his own world ... a world where adopting three baby T-Rex is a good idea. Leguizamo makes a character who should be super annoying entertaining by giving him depth. Despite his zaniness, Sid is spurred on by human needs, for companionship and love. Leguizamo's a master of voices, I think he could make Sid fresh for another ten films. Please God don't make them, but still. Score: 7
Simon Pegg as Buck: Part Weasel, part Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, Buck's the most entertaining part of this latest Ice Age film. With Errol Flynn's love of adventure and Ahab's desire for revenge, Buck leads the remaining herd in search of Sid. I had no idea that Pegg was the voice until the final credits ran. He did a good job, I enjoyed Buck's antics throughout the film-- well, until the trite ending. Score: 7
Talking: The script's unusually hackneyed. The jokes are stale and the more serious moments seem tired. It's definitely a disappointment after the first two Ice Age movies. Score: 3
Sights: If you have the opportunity, I would recommend seeing it in 3D. There are a couple of really great looking chase scenes where the filmmakers use depth to increase the drama. It looks really good, even compared with Pixar. Score: 7
Sounds: The score's maudlin. It gets revoltingly sappy whenever something dramatic happens. For example, one of the 20 times that Manny yells at Sid. And forget about when baby mammoth is born (OK, it's totally adorable, but the music almost made me want to vomit). Score: 2
Best Scene: An early chase scene featuring Diego going after a gazelle was both fun to watch and funny. Plus, I just get a kick out of Denis Leary wheezing. Is that wrong?
Ending: The birth of Peaches is super cute, but the rest was a bit blah. Buck decides to stay and the rest leave, but I could care less at that point. All they seem to be doing is setting up the sequel, which hopefully will NEVER COME. Or at least be straight to video. Please please.
Questions: Seriously, you went for the dinosaurs-living-in-a-secret-underground-cavern route? Have you seen Land of the Lost? How about Journey to the Center of the Earth? The Land Before Time numbers 1 - 10?
Rewatchability: If you are under the age of 8, you'll watch it over and over, constantly marveling at Sid's silliness and Scrat's love of acorns. Otherwise, not so much.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a sequel so my expectations were lower going in. Still, I was surprised by how little the filmmakers seemed to care. The plot was a mishmash of the last two Ice Age movies and the Land Before Time in the worst possible way. I can suspend disbelief and accept mammoths and sloths holding conversations and becoming friends, but accepting that dinosaurs co-exist with mammoths and also humans (as evidenced in earlier films) stretches credibility. For awhile, the pratfalls and physical humor were enough to keep me entertained, but the plot pissed me off. I sensed that the filmmakers just didn't care. Chris Wedge, founder of Blue Sky studios that produced the film, is a creative and talented guy. I expected better. I don't need a work of art but I want you to at least try when you put the film together. The animators clearly did, it looked good. I just wish whoever wrote the script had cared as much.
You may think I'm being too hard on a kids movie, but in a time when Pixar creates not only some of the best children's movies, but some of the best movies period, I don't think my expectations are too high. I hope that Blue Sky's next outing is better.
Final Score: 5/10