Movie Review: ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’

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Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs Movie Review

A scene from ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ (Photo © Blue Sky Studios)

I’m hardly an expert on the first two Ice Age movies having seen Ice Age and Ice Age: The Meltdown a total of one time each, but I don’t remember either of those two movies having as much ‘adult’ humor as the third film of the series: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. This one seems to have taken its cue from the Shrek films, inserting more than a handful of jokes that’ll soar over kids’ heads. It’s not a bad idea, adding a little salty humor to the Ice Age world, and the jokes and double entendres (which don’t come close to being R rated) liven up what could have been strictly a film for the young ones.

Fittingly, the third film of the franchise is the first of the Ice Age bunch to be in 3-D. I’m not a fan of 3-D in most cases because I find it more annoying than entertaining to have things jump off the screen at me. Plus, I enjoy the more vibrant colors offered in 2-D animated films. But Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs doesn’t overdo the 3-D and doesn’t really get in the audience’s face with gimmicky effects. As far as 3-D goes, Ice Age didn’t exactly melt my heart but it did earn a few extra Brownie points for effort.

The Story:

Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) are going to be parents and for Manny, the idea of being a dad for the very first time is a very scary proposition. Manny wants his baby mammoth to be raised in a safe environment, but the wild Ice Age world isn’t exactly baby-proof. Still, he tries his best to prepare a kid-friendly area and creates a beautiful little playground just for his soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. He also tries to prepare Sid (John Leguizamo) for the big changes that will take place in their friendship once he and Ellie add a bouncy baby to their little group. While Diego (Denis Leary) saw the writing on the wall and sets off on his own adventure, Sid is completely flummoxed by the very idea that he, Manny and Diego will no longer be an animal version of the three musketeers.

Sid, at a loss as to how to be on his own, stumbles upon three eggs that have apparently been abandoned by their mother. Key word here – apparently. Actually momma is still around and she’s extremely large and extremely unhappy about Sid’s hijacking of her offspring. She’s also a dinosaur. Yes, a dinosaur. And before you say, “But dinosaurs weren’t around during the Ice Age,” remember this is an animated family comedy with prehistoric animals who talk and act human. Historic liberties are taken and the presence of dinosaurs is explained by showing they’ve been hidden away in an underground world.

So, dino mom takes her three new hatchlings Sid has named Yoko, Shelly, and Eggbert – as well as the silly sloth – back underground. Here, Sid’s completely out of his element but that doesn’t stop him from still insisting these newborns are his. Meanwhile, Manny, Ellie, Ellie’s two little weasel brothers, and Diego (who’s returned to the pack to help out his adopted family) make the trek down, down, down to this strange and frightening world filled with creatures who didn’t get the memo that they’re supposed to be extinct. Manny and company, joined by a dashing one-eyed weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), have to carefully navigate their way through this treacherous world in order to save Sid. And all this is going down just as Ellie’s about ready to give birth.

The Bottom Line:

Is the third time the charm? No, the original Ice Age is still the best of the lot. But Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is far, far better than Ice Age: The Meltdown. There’s more action, more humor, and more Scrat in Ice Age 3. And, let’s face it, you can never have too much Scrat. In fact, this time around there’s a female version of Scrat added into the mix just to give the squirrelly dude some real competition for the love of his life: the acorn he’s been chasing after since 2002.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs moves at a faster clip than Ice Age: The Meltdown, packing a lot of punch with wild chases scenes and cute new characters. And amid all the action in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs there’s an important message to be learned. Family is important, even if your family is made up of an odd conglomerate of characters who drive you crazy at times.

GRADE: B

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was directed by Carlos Saldanha and Michael Thurmeier and is rated PG for some mild rude humor and peril.

Theatrical Release Date: July 1, 2009

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