07 July 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg, Queen Latifa, Sean William Scott, Josh Peck

written by Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman & Yoni Brenner

directed by Carlos Saldanha & Mike Thurmeier

release: 01 July 2009
20th Century Fox, 94 mins, Rated PG

There's Frakking Worse Things

The marketing department at Fox are brilliant - or at least, whoever compiles the trailers. I honestly couldn't give a tinker's damn about what happens to the main characters - Sid, Manny and Diego (and for the matter, Ellie) - but I love that damn unfortunate squirrel, Scrat, and the trailers take full vantage of that affection by basically devoting its entirety to him. For those who pretty much feel the same way, there's plenty of Scrat, although his shenanigans aren't as hilarious as Ice Age: The Meltdown; and concerning our three leads, they have their own little adventure, although not nearly as fleshed out as before.

Manny (Romano) and Ellie (Latifah) are expecting their first child, much to Manny's delight. Sid (Leguizamo) is becoming jealous, wishing to start his own family, and Diego (Leary) wants to go on some more adventures. Diego decides to leave the herd, and Sid discovers three eggs in an undercover ice cave, and brings them back to the surface to nurse and become their "mother." Well, they hatch, and they turn out to be long thought extinct dinosaurs. Their real mother shows up, and whisks them and Sid away back to prehistoric land. Manny, Diego, Ellie and her little friend's Crash and Eddie venture to a land dominated by dinosaurs to find their friend and bring him back, but they need some help. In comes Buck (Pegg), an Jack Sparrow-y weasel who has long survived in this land, and agrees to help them find Sid. But there's one other problem - a dinosaur more powerful than even the T-Rex is on the prowl for meat, and it's heading right towards the gang.

Very much a movie made up of a gags and jokes,
Dawn of the Dinosaurs has a very thin plot that relies on the crazy situations the characters are in to pass the time. I'm OK with that. I was initially none-too-pleased with the addition of even more characters (The Meltdown introduced three other characters that accompany our gang), but luckily their stay is a one-time appearance. Plus, how could I find myself not loving something Simon Pegg's involved with? Speaking of Pegg, his character of Buck is terrific, and I'm a little sad that he won't continue his adventures with the gang, but his storyline is wrapped up so neatly I can't help but smile when I think of his last scene. Like I said above, he has a bit of a Jack Sparrow-vibe: brilliant, but yet not all there in the head; body movement a little wibbly wobbly, etc., etc. I liked Buck enough that I think he deserves his own direct-to-DVD spin-off title when Dawn of the Dinosaurs hits retail shelves. Yah, nah?

Might as well talk about the characters: Manny goes through the fearful state of whether or not he's going to be a good father, and always worries about Ellie's and the baby's safety and protection. As far as a character, there's not much development from the person he was in the first movie. Ellie is very much the same as she was in
The Meltdown, as are her two friends Crash and Eddie. Diego undergoes perhaps the most character-related arc, as he finds himself isolated from this new life Manny and Ellie are forming, and yearns for adventure like the years before. Additionally, through a plot that's never explored or explained, Diego's suffering through heart problems that cause his vision to frak up. Old age sneaking up on him? Sid is his same crazy self, but I really wouldn't want it any other way. And of course, there's Scrat, my entire reason for watching this movie.

Oh, Scrat - how I love yer adventures. Well, as seen in the trailers, Scrat has competition in Scratte, a beautiful female squirrel that steals his heart every time he sees her. Problem is - she wants his damn acorn! Scrat falls deeply in love, but no matter the affection, he senses the acorn. A pretty humorous storyline with a funny adult-ish gag near the end of the movie, Scrat's real moment of glory, laugh out loud comedy comes at the very end, with Scrat having, once again, some really, really, really bad luck. Poor fella. Again - Scrat is awesome!

The animation is about the same level of quality as the first two. It's really nothing spectacular and as detailed like 2008's
WALL*E, but it's far better than junk like Hoodwinked and Happily Ever After. I gotta comment though - the dinosaurs are really well rendered, and "Rudy", the uber ginormous dinosaur that reminded me of Roger Corman's Dinocroc (2004), being simply awesome. Although I wasn't too impressed with characters renditions, I am rather flabbergasted at how beautiful scenery and an aerial battle scene looked. I love and respect old Disney animation, but stuff like this - wonderful and jaw-dropping to look at.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a lot of fun when you're looking for nothing more than to sit back, turn yer brain off, and enjoy the show. There were plenty of funny moments throughout the movie to warrant an recommendation, but there's really not much in the way of substance. At this point, all I really want is a feature-length movie dedicated to Scrat. That's all. Scrat: The Movie, or Scrat and the Missing Acorn of Fate, having Scrat embark on a journey to find an Acorn that possesses all of Earth's knowledge. Could be fun. As for a fourth outing for Ice Age 4, my interest...eh...But as it is, Dawn of the Dinosaurs has freakin' dinosaurs, and they get very little screen time these days, so that alone is making me say - check this baby out!

Oh, and no - I didn't see this gem in 3-D, though I wager (based on how the film was animated), it would look pretty spectacular. I heard
Up and Monsters vs. Aliens weren't all that wonderful in 3-D, and maybe this may remedy the whole lame 3-D scourge since My Bloody Valentine in January.

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