Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The last time we visited with Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the Sabertooth (Dennis Leary) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) Manny had just lucked out and found another mammoth in Ellie (Queen Latifah) to share his love with, in the incredibly lackluster ‘Ice Age: The Meltdown’ from Blue Sky studios. Now everyone has returned, including that thing that chases the acorns, all in glorious 3D in ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’. We are pleased to report that things are better this time around, despite the occasional slow section here and there and the occasional spot of infantile potty humor, but things are better.

It’s crossroads time for our heroes as Ellie has gotten herself pregnant and Manny is spending all his time obsessing over his soon to arrive baby, completely ignoring his long-time buddies. Diego has lost his edge as the heart is willing when it comes to the hunt, but the body is completely unable and Sid is Sid. Feeling left out, Sid wanders off and accidentally crashes through a sheet of ice and lo and behold, the sloth finds three eggs which have yet to hatch. Feeling all maternal Sid grabs these eggs and raises them to hatch status revealing three small T-Rex babies. The ever nervous Manny implores Sid to return these things from whence they came since they probably belong to someone or something, and sure enough mom comes by looking for her kids, stomping stuff in the process then grabbing her hatchlings, and Sid, and takes them back to the Land Beneath The Earth.

Though they thought they were extinct and all, turns out there’s a teeming metropolis of dinosaurs underneath the earth doing the things that dinosaurs do. Personally I would’ve let Sid rot, but his boys refuse to do this so Manny, Diego, Ellie and Ellie’s possum brothers Eddie (Josh Peck) and Crash (Seann William Scott) make a perilous trip beneath the earth to rescue their friend. Chances are they wouldn’t have gotten very far in this trip were it not for their fortuitous introduction to a swashbuckling one-eyed weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg) who has carved out quite the life in these dangerous lands navigating the deadly flora, and doing battle with the occasional weasel eating dinosaur.

Adventure subsequently ensues as our heroes ride Pterodactyls, surf rivers of lava, do battle with numerous deadly creatures and plants and even find the time to have a baby along the way. But will they find Sid and make it out of the Land Beneath the Earth alive? Like I said before, I would’ve let Sid rot. But that’s just me.

While I’ve always thought the ‘Ice Age’ series of movies to be lacking story wise when compared to their competition I’ve always been amazed at how beautiful the CGI rendered images Blue Sky has been able to send to the screen. This leads me to one of the problems I had with the movie because while I’m of the opinion it’s the most accomplished of the three movies I really couldn’t see the point of the 3D in the movie. For instance when the movie was about to start and the screen tells you to put on your glasses, you get this little 3D demo which had my wife and my son and the rest of audience going ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaahh’, but that would be last time they oooh and aaah because there nothing really 3D-ish about the movie which made the fact that I was wearing a second set of glasses quite irritating. See it in regular old 2D if you gotta see it.

Rant aside I founc ‘Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ too be the most entertaining of the three ‘Ice Age’ movies, and take that statement with a grain of salt since I didn’t like either of the first two all that much. And while this is one is pretty much more of the same with Romano, Leary and Latifah not being the most spirited voice actors around and some seriously questionable adult tinged humor sprinkled throughout this movie, especially considering the number of kids that are going to see this, it managed to be a relatively fun movie. Most of this fun started just about the same time that Buck the Weasel showed up on the scene because truth be told ‘Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ was actually kind of boring up to that point. I usually measure the worth of a children’s movie for adult watchers on whether or not my wife will be awake because nothing will put her down quicker than a children’s movie and ‘Ice Age’ lost her for a little bit there. Actually had to nudge her once because her snores were embarrassing us, but once the adventure Beneath The Earth kicked into overdrive it held her interest until the end, and mine as well.

While the Blue Sky productions don’t demonstrate the overall excellence of the Pixar films or the best of Dreamworks, they don’t take back seat in the least when it comes to the look of their films and with this installment of ‘Ice Age’ they take a menacing step forward to matching those heavyweights blow for blow. They aren’t quite there yet, but they are getting closer.

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