Monday, December 3, 2012

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) - Ice Age Gets Hot!

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - You Just Knew They Would Work Dinosaurs into this Series At Some Point

Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs
"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (2009).
The "Ice Age" series hits its peak with "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (2009). Directed once again by Carlos Saldanha (along with Mike Thurmeier), Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox do precisely what they were told not to do by the experts they consulted before the first film: mix dinosaurs and the Ice Age. In doing so, they hit the box office jackpot, earning back ten times the cost of this film as people flocked to see the two things every kid seems to want in an animation film: laughs and dinosaurs. For those who were a tad disappointed in the second film, which kind of just drifted along, this revived interest in the series and led to yet another sequel, 2012's "Ice Age: Continental Drift."

Manny, Ellie, Sid, Diego and the Possum brothers walk through the forest in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
We're rollin', we're rollin' along...
This time around, Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah), two friendly wooly mammoths, have overcome their differences and are expecting a child. Diego (Denis Leary), the prehistoric tiger, is unable to catch an annoying gazelle (Bill Hader) he has been following and feels he is losing his hunting edge. Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), feeling a bit left out, decides that he, too, should be a father. He finds three eggs in an icy cave and takes them, believing they are abandoned.

Diego prowling in 3D in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
Believe me, this looks better with the 3-D glasses.
It turns out that Sid's three eggs were not abandoned, and are from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The angry mother returns and carries them and Sid back into the cave. Diego, Manny, Ellie and the two possum brothers Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) follow the dinosaur through the cave and into a hidden jungle full of dinosaurs. Disaster looms from an attacking dinosaur, but the group gets help from a one-eyed weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg). Ice Age 3 Dawn of the Dinosaurs
This was released on Blu-ray and DVD; some versions have a second "Scrat Pack" disc of games
Buck leads the rescuers through the jungle to Lava Falls, where the mother T. Rex has taken Sid and the baby dinosaurs. Along the way, they have to cross the Chasm of Death, which is full of laughing gas and causes travelers to laugh themselves right into the chasm.

Buck and Sid in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
Well, hello there!
The mother dinosaur takes a liking to Sid, who energetically tries to feed the baby dinosaurs. Sid, though, is attacked by Rudy, a fish-eating dinosaur that previously had attacked Buck. Ultimately, Buck, Crash, and Eddie have to try and save Sid. At the same time, Ellie goes into labor, and later the group has to try and find its way out of the dinosaur jungle and back to their home.

Momma T. Rex comes after Sid in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
The 3-D really does make the dinosaurs look scarier.
Scrat (Chris Wedge), meanwhile, is still worried about his nuts but finds a female saber-toothed squirrel named Scratte (Karen Disher) with whom he loves and fights. Does Scrat get the girl and the acorn? We have to wait until the very end of the film to find out.

The Possum Brothers in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
The Possum Brothers add comic relief.
Blue Sky really changed the game plan with this film. When the series began, it had consulted with scientists to try and get as accurate with its characters as possible. At this point, though, with the characters firmly established, it threw scientific accuracy out the window and went for a crowd-pleasing tale full of scary dinosaurs and cute little dinosaur children. If you were a purist about the series, this was the episode to skip, but if you were a little kid, one look at the dinosaurs and you were probably clamoring for mom to take you to see it.

The Possum Brothers in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
Aw, look at the cute little baby dinosaurs, they couldn't hurt you - right?
The 3-D animation is nicely crafted, looking much improved and definitely worth the trouble. The pace is noticeably faster than the second film, "Ice Age: The Meltdown." The jokes also seemed to work better in this episode, as everyone just sits back and lets it rip without any pretensions to this being a serious examination of anything. It does follow down the path of the second film, though, in its continued lack of much originality. With the characterizations set in stone, this is like another episode of a TV series where we know what to expect, and everyone delivers as expected. Once again, John Powell does the music (along with many, many other animation films, including the upcoming, highly anticipated "How to Train Your Dragon 2").  Chris Wedge, who directed the first film, oversees everything as Executive Producer.

The baby dinosaurs in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
My, what big teeth you have...
The entire viewing public is likely to find something to enjoy in "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." This is a crowd-pleaser more than a critic-pleaser, and on that scale, it works very well. Children are apt to find the baby dinosaurs and mammal kids fantastically endearing. and everybody loves Scrat. Adults should not be worried about having to see this, though: they will find plenty to like, as the series sprinkles pop culture references around liberally. With the pressure of establishing the franchise behind him, Ray Romano as Manny shines with the kind of humor that made him a favorite on television

Sid seen through a dinosaur's teeth in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 2009
Maybe they got the first divorce?
As far as the underlying theme goes, it is all about family and the next generation, so it can't be all bad in terms of its effects on kids. The breakout star continues to be Scrat, and Chris Wedge continues to voice him as he rides out perhaps the most successful director's cameo in film history. For the third film in the franchise, a position that often leads to disaster, this is a worthy effort. Get "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" on Blu-Ray, strap on those 3-D glasses, and be prepared to have a fun trip back in time.

Below is the trailer.


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