Often times you are asked to suspend disbelief when watching a film. This can easily be done for most people, unless historical inaccuracies are involved and those people just happen to love history. Animated films these days are not just for kids, but for the most part they are created with kids in mind. So if there happens to be historical inaccuracies in an animated film, most kids won’t notice. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the third in the Ice Age series and like the previous two, appeals to kids primarily. Kids love dinosaurs, but history buffs are likely to turn their noses when first hearing of the title.
In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the woolly mammoths Manny and Ellie (Ray Romano and Queen Latifah) prepare for the arrival of their baby as the saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) begins to feel his age and decides to leave the herd. Feeling left out, Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) decides to hatch his own family from a trio of eggs he finds hidden in a crevasse. They hatch, and Sid finds himself raising three baby Tyrannosaurus dinosaurs. Their mother, however, returns and seizes them, along with Sid. The aforementioned herd, including the possum brothers Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck), now have to give chase and wind up in a vast underground cavern, which could be considered the lost world of dinosaurs. There, they team up with a one-eyed weasel called Buckminster (Simon Pegg) and face a series of challenges in rescuing Sid and getting back to the surface alive. While all of this goes on, the saber-toothed squirrel Scrat is still forever chasing the elusive acorn, but this time a female of his species complicates matters.
There were probably a few different ways that the third Ice Age could have logically gone. In fact, it seemed like they were going to do just that at the beginning. Then, they probably realized how boring that would have been. Therefore, they resorted to coming up with a crazy story about dinosaurs that doesn’t logically make sense. It feels like they were desperate to make this movie interesting and fun. So while the film borrows heavily from The Land Before Time series of films, at least it is not as preachy as the second film in the series was. Ice Age 2: The Meltdown became a film with a political message of global warming, and that made it less fun and entertaining.
The comedy is hit or miss. The characters we have seen before have gotten very old and not entertaining, with the exception of Scrat. You actually see more of Scrat this time around, and believe it or not, his acorn chasing routine still hasn’t gotten old. It does help that Scrat now has a female Scratte to deal with this time. But Scrat is not the star of this film (unfortunately). But at least there’s a new character that is fresh, unique, and funny. Simon Pegg voices the weasel, Buckminster, and despite him being a copy of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, he is extremely entertaining to watch. This character steals every scene he is in, and much credit should be given to Simon Pegg, who bring much needed energy to the character. Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Jane Lynch also voice new characters this time around, but you will barely notice them in comparison. What continues to upstage everything, though, is the animation. It has only gotten better and the new dinsoaur environment is a welcome change to the eyes of the audience.
If you are going to watch this film, you first have to overlook the fact that dinosaurs walked the Earth way before the Ice Age, and thus “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” with these characters could never happen. You have to suspend disbelief and buy the premise of the film. If you can do that, then you’ll find a film that’s definitely more fun and entertaining than the overly preachy Ice Age 2. With the addition of a new character in Buckminster and the tweaking of Scrat’s storyline helps to elevate the movie into something that can be watched by the entire family.
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p/AVC at the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio. This transfer is great. Small details are clear and all the colors are crisp and vibrant. Audio is available in either English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Portuguese as well.
Storybook Maker –
This feature is divided into three difficulty levels: Bronze Age storybooks are for kids between 1 and 5, Stone Age for those between 6 and 11, and Ice Age for those 12 and up. Young kids will need help from their parents to do this. Basically, kids choose a herd and a cover and then they will be given access to a series of film scenes from which they can capture screenshots. From there, they choose page layouts, manipulate their images, insert text, and create multiple pages. Finally, they can read, edit, delete, and create a library of their storybooks. Pretty unique and cool.
Evolution Expedition –
This runs 18 minutes and representatives from the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea tar pits discuss the animals featured in the film and their real life (albeit extinct) counterparts. There are lots of film clips, but there is also plenty of information that should keep kids entertained if they want to know more about these animals.
Audio Commentary –
There is a full-length audio commentary with the director Carlos Saldanha, co-director Mike Thurmeier, producers John Donkin and Lori Forte, art director Michael Knapp, character designer Peter DeSève, and supervising animator Galen Tan Chu. They spend too much time patting themselves on the back for a job well done. That might be true, but they don’t give you much insight into making the film besides that. That isn’t very entertaining either.
Bonus Shorts –
There are two shorts that feature Scrat. They are the 5-minute “Gone Nutty” and the 7-minute “No Time For Nuts.” Both of these have been on the previous Ice Age DVD releases, but “No Time For Nuts” was nominated for an Oscar.
“Scrat Featurettes” –
There are 5 brief featurettes that total 23 miutes. Most are these are from Ice Age: The Meltdown. “The Saber-Toothed Squirrel: Nature’s Nutty Buddy” is a mock educational film designed to resemble something out of the 1950s. “Scrat: From Head to Toe” begins with a tutorial on how to draw the character and segues into a look at how the character came to be. “Breaking Story” and “News Report”, both designed to mimic news broadcasts, reveal modern scientists’ discovery of Scrat beneath the ice and their attempts to revive him. “Falling for Scratte” talks about the development of Scrat’s nemesis, and love interest, Scratte.
“Buck: From Easel to Weasel” Featurette –
This runs 7 minutes and it’s a look at the development of the newest and most interesting character from this film.
“Unearthing the Lost World” Featurette –
This runs 9 minutes and it’s a look at the artistry behind the film. Members of the production crew discuss the design of the film basically, and this is really interesting to watch.
Fox Movie Channel Specials –
This is 5 more brief featurettes that total 28 minutes. First is “Making a Scene”, which focus on the production process from a particular sequence’s standpoint. One of these scenes is from the second Ice Age, but wasn’t on the Ice Age: The Meltdown DVD release. It deals with a scene between Scrat and piranhas while the other centers on the carnivorous plant sequence from the third film. The other three about the voice actors from the film, “In Character with John Leguizamo,” “In Character with Ray Romano,” and “In Character with Queen Latifah.” Each performer explains their approach, inspirations and influences, and how they relate to their characters.
“Walk the Dinosaur” Music Video –
The usual minute and a half music video with clips from the film set to a song from the film.
DVD-Rom Activities –
There are 3 games for kids to play on the computer. They are Scrat Pinball, Eggshell, and Bubble Trouble.
Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a small step up from The Meltdown but comes in second when compared to the first Ice Age escapade. Kids will be entertained by it, their eyes glued to the screen, so that is all that should count.
20th Century FOX Studios Home Entertainment presents Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Directed by Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier. Starring Ray Romano (voice), Denis Leary (voice), John Leguizamo (voice), Queen Latifah (voice), and Simon Pegg (voice). Running time: 94 minutes. Rated PG. Released on DVD: October 27, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: animation, Ice Age