April 6, 2006

Movie Review: Ice Age: The Meltdown

It's been four years (at least since the first film) since we last saw these guys, the ice age is in full swing, and the mixed race herd has settled into their new lives. All seems to be going fine, everyone is happy. But along comes a fast talking lizard crying doomsday. Of course, after the standard misunderstandings, Manny finds the threat to be real. Now, along with Diego and Sid, they must lead the herd to safety at the far end of the valley.

There you have the story upon which are hung many gags and side stories that comprise the movie that is Ice Age: The Meltdown. I hate to say it, but the story felt very tired and drawn out. I didn't find myself connecting with the characters on any level. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertained, I was. However, I wasn't captivated by the story. I didn't really buy into the whole flood thing. Sure, I know it's an animated film targeted primarily at kids, but is it too much to ask to have a story that is at least interesting?

Besides the flood, and leading the herd out of danger, which seems to be pushed to the side shortly after the initial move, the main characters get their own side stories. The biggest side story would have to be Manny's. Throughout, he is struggling with the possibility that he is the last of the mammoths. That is until they meet up with Ellie, a mammoth who think's she is a possum. Of course, this leads to much comedy. There is also a thread concerning Diego and his fear of water, which never really takes off. Finally there is Sid, constantly trying to prove himseld a worthy part of the herd. Sid also gets to feel the pressure being at the head of a herd, which he really doesn't want.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the numerous adventures that Scrat has in his attempts to obtain his precious acorn. Interspersed throughout the movie he has battles with water, pirahnas, and a newly born vulture. These are among the best parts of the movie, but they also are so numerous that they expose how little story there really is. Almost the same can be said about the possum brothers, Crash and Eddie, whose sole reason for being, other than as Ellie's companions, is to provide comic relief.

Ice Age: The Meltdown feels as if they only had about 40 minutes of story and needed a way to pad out the runtime. This padding out takes the form of many of those Scrat interludes, and oter things like Sid's adventure with the mini sloths. I just felt as if they were purposely shifting the focus around in hopes that you wouldn't notice that the plot never moved anywhere.

The voice acting was decent. John Leguizamo stood head and shoulders above the rest. Despite not really caring about the story, everything with Leguizamo's Sid the sloth was gold. He brought an energy and sense of fun to every line, and was one of the saving graces of the film. Denis Leary as Diego to saber tooth tiger was pretty good, just the right amount of surly. That brings us to our two mamoths, Ray Romano and Queen Latifah, they are both adequate, but there really isn't much life to the characters.

Bottomline. In the end, I would have to say that it is an entertaining, if unfulfilling and not terribly memorable. Definitely geared towards the younger set. I like the Scrat stuff and everything with Sid, but the rest winds up as so much fluff. But the kids will like it, and that is probably the most important part.

Mildly Recommended.
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