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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Chris Wedge
scr Michael Berg, Michael J Wilson, Peter Ackerman
voices Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic, Jack Black, Cedric The Entertainer, Stephen Root, Alan Tudyk, Jane Krakowski, Lorri Bagley, Tara Strong, Josh Hamilton
release US 15.Mar.02; UK 22.Mar.02
Fox 02/US 1h17
Lord of the Flame: Sid lights a fire
Fox takes on Disney and Dreamworks with their own CGI animated feature from director Chris Wedge (the Oscar-winning short Bunny). While the imagery is astonishing and fresh, the story itself isn't terribly original.
It's about a trio of mismatched creatures--gruff-but-loveable woolly mammoth (voiced by Romano), cheeky sloth (Leguizamo), sneaky sabre-tooth tiger (Leary)--forced to work together to reunite a lost human infant with its family while a new ice age closes in around them. Wacky adventures ensue, along with a sinister subplot involving the tiger's pals. All the while a tiny prehistoric squirrel-rat (called, naturally, "Scrat") tries valiantly to bury its precious acorn.
The inventive look of the film and a sporadic stream of funny gags keep us watching, even if the characters and plot aren't exactly ground-breaking. We know from the beginning exactly what will happen, how the characters will all get along, even what twists are coming, right up to the syrupy finale. This lack of imagination means the overall film feels familiar and more than a bit dull.
But never mind ... it looks amazing! Action sequences take our breath away. And there's real wit in the design--although for a sloth, Sid is far too zippy and energetic (jokes about his laziness aside, he never moves remotely like a real sloth); while the tigers are rather too reminiscent of the villains in The Lion King. The star of the show, easily, is Scrat--a brilliantly designed little creature who's consistently hilarious, full of personality and never overstays his welcome. He makes the whole film worth seeing, and you get the idea the filmmakers knew that all along.
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© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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