Director: Carlos Saldanha, Mike Thurmeier
The new installment of the Ice Age franchise is a wonderful surprise for kids and adults alike, successfully overcoming the dilution effect that commonly plagues many sequels. Although the anachronistic premise — mammoths facing off dinosaurs — is quite hard to forgive, the movie is imbued with delicious humor, snappy dialogue, and a freshness of ideas that is bound to satisfy even the pickiest audiences.
Paleontologists and astrophysicists are unfortunately at a loss. The existence of a pocket of Jurassic era habitat, miraculously preserved alive under the thick ice cover, is hard to believe, even in a cartoon world. Time travel might have been more believable. Nevertheless, the creators of the movie steer clear of any definitive explanation, instead focusing on delivering a compelling ride that follows the new adventures of our sub-zero heroes: the woolly mammoths Manny and Ellie, the saber-toothed tiger Diego, the sloth Sid, the possum pair Crash and Eddie, and, last but not least, the saber-toothed squirrel Scrat.
The movie picks up right where the last one ended, each character now facing a more or less personal challenge. Manny and Ellie are preparing for their first baby, Diego is questioning his lifestyle alongside his slow moving friends, Sid wishes for a family of his own, and Scrat, still chasing his elusive acorn, runs into some romantic trouble.
The adventure begins when Sid unwittingly adopts three dinosaur eggs and attempts to raise the trio of hatchlings. Before they know it, all our heroes end up in a tropical habitat running for their lives. Fortunately, they run into Buck, a fearless weasel with a knack for dealing with the wild Jurassic fauna. From here on, the high paced adventure unfolds seamlessly, with lots of satisfying twists and turns, towards an uplifting finale.
The lush graphics and intelligent cinematography are delightful, fully exploiting the capabilities of the genre, especially in the regular version. In my opinion, the 3D version of the movie is only a whimsical gimmick, the 3D effects being unimpressive, especially when they come with a $3 surcharge. A great deal of the movie’s appeal comes from its humor — not just the slapstick, but also the more subtle trivia references.
The voice talents are also remarkable, with special acknowledgment going to Simon Pegg, who voices the newcomer Buck. The comedic talents of Pegg shine through the vitality of Buck, who is always in a mood for rambling or storytelling.
Aside from its dubious paleontological premise, and its horrendous sequel title (“Dawn of the Dinosaurs” sounds like an after-hours addition by the distribution company), Ice Age 3 is a thoroughly entertaining movie that offers something to everyone: There’s romance, action, adventure, gorgeous animation, humor, and above all, the fad of the summer — dinosaurs!