Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - New Movie Review

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Ice Age: The Meltdown raked in close to $700 million worldwide, so, as you can imagine, Fox Animation Studios wasn’t going to let this franchise die just yet. Since the public had seen our characters venture through snow and ice in the two previous installments, and were probably getting tired of it by now, the developers had to come up with a new way to get the movie going public to spend their hard earned cash and sit through another sequel. Probably running low on ideas, the developers decided to add a little something that was bound to trick people into seeing their movie … dinosaurs. Thus, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was created.

At the end of the previous Ice Age film, Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) finally got together. So, logically, in this one, Ellie is pregnant and Manny is roaming around trying to childproof everything. Meanwhile, Sid (John Leguizamo), who is still retarded, is growing jealous of Manny and Ellie. So, what does Sid do? Sid falls down at crack in the ice and finds three eggs. The eggs end up hatching and, as it turns out, the babies inside are T-Rexes. Still wanting to prove that he is worth something, Sid decides to raise the babies anyway… and mayhem ensues… oh, yeah, I almost forgot, Diego (Denis leary) is losing his animal instincts and contemplates leaving. Anyway, back to the main plot. While the baby dinos are wrecking shit, their really momma comes along and takes them, and Sid, back down below the surface… to a place that is a lot like the one in Journey to the Center of the Earth. You can probably tell where this is going already… Manny, the pregnant Ellie, her “brothers” Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) and Diego must venture below. While down below, they run into all sorts of dinosaurs and a one-eyed weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg), who proceeds to help them friend their retarded friend.

There are a few things that I found enjoyable in this movie. First and foremost is the setting. Granted the idea of dinosaurs is nothing new to the big screen, but the lavish jungle setting and flowing lava looks a lot better than the boring snowy, icy land our characters were traversing through in the first two… don’t get me wrong, the snow and ice are still there, but they tried to stay away from that as much as possible this time around. The “action sequences” are nice, I’ll give them that, but they aren’t going to embarrass Star Trek or Wolverine like the blurb in the TV spots says. The story has also improved since the last one. In the last one there were multiple stories that kind of came together, but in this one, we get a more coherent story to comes together quickly… but still has an annoying side story that should have just been an animated short shown before the movie (but I’ll get into that in a little bit.) The film also improved in the humor department. Yes, most of the humor is still for kids, but there are jokes in the movie that are geared more towards the adults in the audience. It’s almost like they are repaying you for having to sit through unfunny bullshit from the first two films. The last enjoyable thing… Buck. Buck is actually pretty funny and, at times, steals the spotlight from every one else. Because of that, I smell a Buck spin-off in the works. I’m not too sure if they will actually go through with it, but it would be better than dealing with the other characters again.

Now comes the bad parts of the film. Up front is the unholy trinity of annoying bullshit known as Leguizamo, Romano and Latifah. Since I’ve already gone through that shit twice before, I don’t feel like I have, or want to for that matter, go through it again. Next up is the side story that I mentioned above. The side story is a love story that revolves around Scrat, the little squirrel creature from the other movies, and a female Scrat. These scenes aren’t essential to the plot of the overall movie and only seem to be thrown in to add an extra ten minutes to the total run time of the movie. As I said before, these scenes would have made a better short film that appeared before the movie than actually included in the movie. The last problem, which is my own personal problem with the movie, is that the film wastes the albino dinosaur that’s shown in the trailers. The dinosaur looks pretty awesome and menacing in the trailers, but is in the movie, fully seen, for all of 3 minutes. When you include a flash back scene where you don’t actually see the dinosaur and glimpses of its foot and shadow, the dino’s actually gets around 7 minutes total of screen time.

With improvements in a lot of areas, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ends up being a lot better than Ice Age: The Meltdown. This movie is probably make enough money for Fox Animation Studios to green light another movie… hopefully they’ll decide to do a movie revolving around Buck instead of the other characters.

Final Synopsis: It’s better than The Meltdown, but it still isn’t the best animated movie in theaters today. As of this moment, that prize goes to Up.

Points Lost: -3 for the unholy trinity of Leguizamo, Romano and Latifah. -1 for the Scrat love story that only bumped up the run time, -1 for wasting the albino dinosaur.

Lesson Learned: If you have to continuously save a friend that is always getting into trouble, you may want to get a new friend.

Burning Question: What happened to the humans from the first movie?


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