Ice Age : Dawn of the Dinosaurs – 3D (2009)
Welcome to the brave new world, a land of danger, daring and dastardly dianoetic disheveled dumbfoundery! Ok… so I hadn’t seen a film in the new 3D yet so upon receiving my glasses in the cinema (for an extra £1.50 I might add) it immediately filled Ice Age : Dawn of the Dinosaurs with added anticipation. Having seen the first two I was expecting something well constructed and fun without being particularly ground breaking and that was what I got, although with some extra spark from our last outing.
The first Ice Age gave Fox something to shout about in the playground next to animated bully Dreamworks and school geek Pixar. While the former always throw in plenty of action and big names (see Shrek, Madagascar, Monstars vs Aliens) you’ll find the latter in the corner with their perfectly crafted origami (see Wall-E, Toy Story, Finding Nemo). In the animated world of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pixar‘s paper continues to smother Dreamworks rock, so Fox are left trying to cut in on the action.
Having pulled this off with Ice Age, the second outing was more of the same and so this time they have pushed the boat out a little to give us something a bit more fresh and exciting. As they prepare to do battle with new Pixar adventure Up and the recent Dreamworks Bolt, in Dawn of the Dinosaurs they are definitely looking good for the fight.
As we enter the movie we find Manny (Ray Romano) in a state of excited panic over his impending fatherhood. This central theme makes up a reasonably slow start to the movie as some character development is put in place. There isn’t actually a whole lot here that really impacts the story other than give us book ends around the main portion of this prehistoric sandwich but it trundles along nicely enough. All the gang are here with Sid (John Leguizamo) being the initial main focus finding some eggs that hatch into little dinosaur babies. Sid of course decides that if Manny can be a father then so can he and so sets about taking care of them as best he can. A little bit of rambunctious mayhem later their dino mum appears to carry home her offsping… as well as Sid. Cue the action.
With a rescue story now fully in place we meet the newest member of the Ice Age crew, Buck (Simon Pegg). It’s no coincidence that both the pace and fun pick up with the introduction of Pegg’s slightly mentally unstable weasel. He is witty and full of banter from the off as the gang begin their search for Sid amoungst the perils of the underground dinosaur world.
It is in this world that the films highest points occur as we are treated to some stunning 3D chase scenes. I will admit to being a tad skeptical prior to the show about how the 3D would pan out. While it wasn’t a complete revelation to my cinema experience it was neither just a bunch of people sitting in a room wearing silly glasses. The action sequences in Ice Age really explode off the the screen with their depth and perspective. One flying section was particularly griping as our heroes duck and drive under a moving herd to great effect. It really gives the series that little extra zing it required to stave off the feeling that you’ve seen them do this before.
The familiar dynamic played out between Manny, Sid and Diego (Denis Leary) doesn’t feel as exciting as it did in their first outing but sentiment pastes over the cracks and Buck augments a new zest into the proceedings with his adventurer persona that reminded me a little of Chrocodile Dundee on heroin. A cross between Captain Ahab and Steve Irwin, Pegg plays it loose and fun and if the reaction of the kid behind me is anything to go by then he will be a new favourite amoungst the younger audience to which the film is aimed at.
The story is rounded off by tying up some of the original character motivations mentioned earlier, but to be honest the plot is fairly thinly spread. The film is squarely aimed at it’s child audience which is reflected in the hi octane, never stop, never let up, feeling the film takes off once it has kicked into gear. Scrat makes a welcome return (along with new love interest Scratte) with his continuing struggle for the perfect acorn and while all his scenes are as fun and funny as ever they break up and slow down the main story arc too much and seem more in place to perk the interest again after a story section.
There are one or two jokes for the older viewer, my particular favourite being an egg themed Yoko Ono gag, but the humour is mostly for the kids as well. Fox have stuck to their market a little more ridgedly that either Dreamworks or Pixar and for it have produced a very entertaining if slightly shallow piece. You’ll definately have fun with this movie if you want to. I enjoyed it from start to finish and would recommend it if looking for something to distract a killer 8 year old. It doesn’t tip the depths of character and story I imagine Up will, and was a little more fun, if slightly lacking in story, than Monstars vs Aliens so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a 4th installment. With more 3D films, such as gerbil-fest kids live actioner G-Force on their way however, if they do they will need to push the story aspect harder in order to stop the characters going stale and the meat of this sandwich ending up on the playground floor.
Rock, Paper, Scissors? For now, Ice Age still makes the cut.