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|Ice Age: The Meltdown|
|aka: Ice Age 2|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Carlos Saldanha|
scr Jon Vitti
voices Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Will Arnett, Jay Leno, Chris Wedge, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Root, Mindy Sterling
release US 31.Mar.06, UK 7.Apr.06
06/US Fox 1h31
Family values: The herd heads for high ground
There's clearly been a budget increase since Fox's first foray into Disney/Dreamworks-style animation with Ice Age in 2002. This film looks terrific, and has some wonderfully eye-grabbing sequences. It also has a superb zing of wit. So it's a pity the story's so bland.
Mopey mammoth Manny (voiced by Romano), tetchy tiger Diego (Leary) and spirited sloth Sid (Leguizamo) have formed their own "herd" (read: family), and join a mass migration when their valley is threatened by an imminent flood due to global warming. Manny is reluctantly pleased to find that he might not be the last of his species when they run into the sexy Ellie (Latifah), except that she's been raised as a possum, and thinks she is one, frolicking with her mischievous brothers (Scott and Peck). Can they find safety--and love--before the ice wall collapses?
The plot is so pedestrian that it's almost irrelevant. The melting-ice story is resolved with mindless simplicity, and the love story follows such a standard rom-com arc that it's never remotely interesting. What makes the film hugely watchable is its lively characters and sharp comedic tone. And several set pieces that are so visually inventive (the balancing rocks, the underwater battle) that we barely notice they have absolutely nothing to do with the story.
As with the first film, the filmmakers imaginatively play with ice and water imagery, as well as the prehistoric creatures, including the requisite predators: two primordial crocs. And the film is again stolen by the hilarious antics of Scrat and his errant acorn. He's the real star of this franchise, and the filmmakers keep him on screen just the right amount, punctuating the "main" plot with increasingly Road Runner-ish sequences that keep us giggling helplessly.
The vocal cast is so good that they make the whole film worth seeing; each actor adds a spark of personality that makes his or her character thoroughly engaging and gives each personal quest some pathos we can cling to when things get silly and sappy. Let's just hope that next time, the filmmakers come up with a storyline worthy of these terrific characters.
Michelle, London: "Very cute film which was enjoyable regardless of the practically non existant plot! The characters are so likeable although I didn't like Queen Latifah voicing Ellie, didn't suit the character. Great for adults and kids alike - in fact I think the adults laughed more than the kids at times! I love Manny and Sid." (11.Apr.06)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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