Dir. Carlos Saldanha. US, 2009, 93mins.
Parents will have to dig out the pre-history-books to convince their enchanted offspring that dinosaurs did not, in fact, share the earth with woolly mammoths and sabre toothed tigers butIce Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaursis unlikely to draw any complaints. A rattling 3D ride which gives the live action blockbuster competition a run for its money, this third installment in the popular franchise looks likely to outperform its predecessors (which grossed $383m and $652m worldwide in order) despite the tougher mid-summer release date.
Viewers old and young can appreciate the points this film makes about the nature of family without being expressly and repeatedly told so.
Ice Age 3 is an exemplary marriage of precise, well-paced storytelling enhanced by 3D effects in an adventure-packed ride. While refraining from direct hits on the adult audience with knowing, wink-y jokes, it still manages to keep the attention of more mature viewers – the rhythms of peril here come close to the intense travails of Finding Nemo. Young viewers should be rapt from the by-now traditional acorn-snatching prologue to Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ end credits, viewing this as an equally immediate experience to live action, if not more so given the jutting beaks of the pterodactyls & co.
Opening mostly day-and-date on July 1, Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs goes out against Public Enemies in the US and in the wake of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (PG-13) meaning it has the family audience to itself until July 17 when Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince is unleashed worldwide (again, a possible PG-13). Ice Age should make the most of this happy gap, playing well domestically (the last took $195m in 2006) and internationally (where Ice Age: The Meltdown grossed a combined $150m in France, Germany and the UK alone).
The franchise traditionally hasn’t performed well in Asia, and this all-action adventure could improve its fortunes there. 3D will give a boost all-round.
Saldhana (co-director on the first and sole helmer on the second) returns here in tandem with the creative powerhouse that is Blue Sky Studios and the characters we have come to know and love. The Ice Age clan’s frozen environment seems to be relatively solid following Meltdown and the main issue preoccupying woolly mammoth Manny (voice of Ray Romano) and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) is the impending arrival of their first child. Sabre-toothed tiger Diego (Leary) and sloth Sid (Leguizamo) react in differing ways to the eagerly-waited arrival: Diego feels threatened and sets off alone, while Sid finds some dinosaur eggs and decides to hatch them himself, not the best idea the sloth has ever had.
The resulting births lead the clan off on a rescue-adventure to a land beneath the ice where dinosaurs still rule the world and wascally weasel Buck (Simon Pegg) is locked in an epic Captain Hook/crocodile-style battle with an enormous prehistoric beast.
When Saldhana isn’t focused on Ice Age’s search-and-rescue aspect, amusing cuts to Scratt, his new love Scratte, and the contentious acorn provide light relief, but the core story itself manages to be steadily warm-hearted and adventurous without feeling the need to be aggressively “on-message”. Viewers old and young can appreciate the points this film makes about the nature of family without being expressly and repeatedly told so.
Technically, this feels like a step forward in terms of 3D animated imagery in service of the story; while children may readily accept it as all part of the adventure, adults will be suitably impressed by how far 3D has come, seemingly so quickly.
The voice cast is effective, with Pegg a cheeky new addition to the family and Leguizamo’s talents getting a good show. Running time is spot on at 93 mins; soundtrack is tongue-in-cheek amusing. For anybody wondering when Gilbert O’Sullivan would make a comeback, the answer is here, with Alone Again, Naturally.
20th Century Fox
Blue Sky Studios
20th Century Fox
John C. Donkin
From a story by Jason Carter
Seann William Scott