Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 147: Ice Age (2002) - Rank 3.5/5


For the past year now, I've been staring at an "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" standee in my lobby. Incredibly, the standee had the desired effect on me. It made me want to see "Ice Age" so I could try and determine how the sordid trilogy set off so that it reached the anachronistic point that evolution is progressing backwards where events that occurred 230 millions years ago at the end of the Triassic Era (the "dawn of the dinosaurs") got pushed until 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. Methinks the writers at Blue Sky Studios are taking rather creative liberties with the fossil record. What?! No, I won't overlook it, so stop criticizing me!

Anyway, I had always been curious about "Ice Age" for two reasons: one, it not only spawned a huge toy line, but a trilogy as well, so it must be popular. Two, it is the film that put Blue Sky on the map just as "Toy Story" did Pixar. So I suppose an error on my part was expect the film to be commensurate with "Toy Story" in the domain of story and style. Not so much. While the terms "cute" and "charming" and "funny" are all ways I could describe the film, "formulaic" would also apropos.

Within the first ten minutes, we meet Manny the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), who've found a human child and are determined to return him to his family, despite humans being bloodthirsty foes. Along for the trip is Diego, a smilodon, who also wants the child to take back to his pack so it can be killed. This being the setup, you already know from the get-go that Diego will turn good, the evil smilodons will be defeated, Manny will ease up a bit on his grouchy ways and the child will return safe and sound. No body count here, save the villains, though Diego does make a miraculous and unexplained recovery after an attack, as if the hand of a studio exec came down from the clouds and restored his life, saying: "There must be a sequel." While judging a children's film harshly might seem a bit silly, I think that's the true issue I had with the film: it was aimed only at kids. While "Toy Story" and others of the "talking things" CGI ilk are also aimed at kids, they have enough subtle winks to adults to open up the general audience appeal just a bit.

Watch the Trailer

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