Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs


Review by Patrick Hodges

When any series of films – that aren’t adapted from a series of literary works or had been determined well in advance to be a trilogy – reaches its third installment, we go into the theater expecting certain things.  We want enough of the familiar characters and elements from the first two parts to feel comfortable, yet enough new stuff to make it exciting and fresh, rather than the feeling that it’s just the voice talents cashing a paycheck.  To that end, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs does succeed.

All of the characters from Ice Age: The Meltdown are back.  Manny, the gruff-but-kind mammoth (Ray Romano) is expecting his first child with Ellie (Queen Latifah), and you know what that means:  the IQ level of all males in the vicinity drop to equal the ambient temperature (and it’s the Ice Age, do the math).  Also back is Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), who has grown restless and is worried that he may be losing his edge, and Sid (John Leguizamo), the dim-witted sloth who longs to start a family of his own.

A mishap causes Sid to fall through the ice, where he finds three large eggs, which he adopts as his own.  But when the eggs hatch into baby T-Rexes, things get chaotic, especially when their none-too-pleased mother comes looking for them.  Mama scoops up Sid and her children, taking them underground to what appears to be an entire ecosystem, which has survived untouched for eons.

On a quest to find Sid, Diego, Manny, Ellie, and her two possum pals Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck), venture underground to rescue him.  There, they meet some very large, angry reptiles, not to mention a one-eyed weasel dino-hunter named Buck (Simon Pegg), who is helpful (and very eccentric, if you get my meaning) in helping them acclimatize.

And, of course, there’s the comic relief, the prehistoric squirrel Scrat, who continues his seemingly interminable quest to retrieve his beloved acorn.  The writers, who absolutely delight in torturing him, this time give him a love-interest/nemesis in the form of Scratte, a female of his species.  The film’s more hysterical moments, as usual, are when the “camera” focuses on them.

This film is, of course, meant more for kids than adults, so a fair amount of juvenile humor is unavoidable.  I didn’t find a lot of the jokes funny, but the youngsters around me did, and I must admit, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.  And the animation, naturally, is fantastic:  maybe not up to Pixar’s level, but then, no one’s is.  And for a “Part 3”, really, could one ask for more?

Dawn of the Dinosaurs will probably not be a film that one will want to see over and over again, and in ten years, very few will likely remember it.  I don’t know how many more times our favorite pre-historic herd can take the field, but as long it’s entertaining in the now, I won’t object.

3 ½ / 5 stars

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