It’s hard to get one’s mind around the third installment of the Ice Age franchise. The 3-D aspect (available only at some theaters) breathes some new life into it but you’re dealing with a story that puts the Ice Age, and all of its mammals, smack up against dinosaurs. There is also a desire to root for the mammals, as in “good mammals, bad dinosaurs.”
There is no demand nor any attempt to explain this ridiculous plot point, and in fact, it could ultimately confuse kids as to what came first and what existed when. Okay so maybe it isn’t all that serious but here’s a thought – if you do take your kids to see this film, make sure you explain the history.
There aren’t many directions this story could go in. Once Manny (Ray Ramano), a nearly extinct wooly mammoth, found a mate, Ellie (Queen Latifah), in order to extend his species, it seemed as though the story was all wrapped up. Come to find in the third installment Ellie is “with mammoth,” opening up the possibility for yet more installments.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs mostly follows Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo) on his own journey to become a parent. He finds three large eggs in a remote area and brings them home. He falls in love with them as eggs, and when they hatch, they aren’t sloths but some kind of dinosaur. Soon, their giant mother comes stomping around looking for them. When she finds them, she takes them and Sid, back to the place where dinosaurs still roam free, a cavern underneath the ice.
The mammals must rescue the sloth from the dinosaurs. So off they go, with pregnant Ellie in tow. The truth is that small mammals, even a big wooly mammoth, weren’t really built to live alongside dinosaurs and really have no way to fight against them – okay, there I go again, trying to make sense of something that had no such intention in the first place. It’s just that little furry creatures flourished after the dinos were killed off. They were never meant to live….oh, nevermind. You get the idea.
Kids aren’t going to care much either way. The critters are cute, the jokes mildly funny by kid standards. This is ultimately a story about friendship and what kid doesn’t respond to that? They’ll also probably love the interplay between the squirrel Scrat and a new love interest. Scrat, you might remember, is forever pursuing the elusive acorn. With a pretty furry creature to chase, he very nearly forsakes the acorn.
Even Scrat this time around, like all of the characters in this tired franchise, is more annoying than he is cute. The only upside is that their interplay is dazzling to watch from an animation standpoint. Since the film is designed for 3-D it’s full of dramatic jumps, flies and falls.
In the end, Ice Age 3 is one to see only if you’re desperate to give the kids something, anything to do. Just don’t go in expecting much and you’ll not be disappointed.