Ellie, Diego, John Leguizamo, Manny and the rest are back in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, but hold the celebration: the movie is the weakest of the franchise, and that's saying something when the franchise has never been very good to begin with.
I've never understood why the Ice Age movies have been so popular; the three films made so far have made nearly two billion dollars worldwide, not counting DVD and merchandise sales. The first one was boring and the second, while better, was still lackluster. The third film, unfortunately, is the weakest of the three.
In Dawn of the Dinosaurs, idiot sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) discovers three dinosaur eggs and begins to raise the little T-Rexes as his own. He also stumbles across a lost world full of big dinosaurs and other dangerous creatures and vegetation, forcing his pals Diego (Denis Leary), Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) to venture into this world to save him. Allegedly hilarious situations ensue.
The problem is: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs isn't funny. The previous movies, while dull at times, offered up some glimpses of hilarity; in this movie, there are a lot of goofy situations, but few if any evoke any kind of laughter or enthusiasm. The best stuff - involving Scrat, of course - was shown in the previews, leaving a bunch of cluttered scenes for your viewing pleasure.
Though plot has never been all that important to these films, Dawn of the Dinosaurs seems to completely throw any semblance of such to the wind. The movie is just a collection of random situations that the characters have to get themselves out of, which are perfectly fine for five year-olds but painful for everyone else. The movie never lets up, but after a while it gets tiring; as confirmed in the bonus features, the crew basically sat down and attempted to come up with as many zany situations as possible... the screenplay itself is rarely mentioned.
Unfortunately, the visuals are also starting to look extremely subpar to the stuff that DreamWorks and Pixar are pumping out. Not only does Ice Age 3 struggle to entertain, it struggles to even look pretty.
There are few redeeming qualities about Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur. It certainly has plenty of adventure, but it is bland adventure at best. Little kids should have a blast with all of the random obstacles the characters face, but everyone needing more than a few goofy moments will be pulling their hair out. I wish I could say that this will be the last Ice Age movie, but we all know different: 20th Century Fox has no incentive to change its formula anytime soon.
The two-disc DVD set that I reviewed included a director's commentary, additional movie trailers and lots and lots of relatively uninteresting bonus features surrounding Scrat, including two short films, the creation of Scrat, the creation of Scratte and more. Other bonus features include some behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew, primarily the visual effects people. There's not a lot of meat to bite down on here, and very little stuff for the kids alone.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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