October 18, 2009 -- That pesky squirrel is back, again, for the third in the “Ice Age” franchise of animated films. Like most sequels, the quality of the story has gradually declined in each succeeding sequel since the original film was released in 2002, but the technical quality of computer animation has improved during that same time. The original film was “Ice Age” and the first sequel was “Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).” The animation looks good and there are some good characters, but the weakness of the story hurts the film.
Even though dinosaurs were long gone by the last ice age, this film resurrects them, combining elements of the first film with some elements of “The Lost World” or “At the Earth's Core.” The basic idea is that somewhere underground, or in a remote jungle somewhere, dinosaurs still live. Sid the Sloth (voiced by John Leguizamo) finds three dinosaur eggs, which hatch and become his children. Unfortunately, the real mother of the three baby dinosaurs, a tyrannosaurus rex, wants them back. Sid is warned about the danger of taking the dinosaur eggs, but he very much wants to be a father. His parenting instincts are enhanced by the impending birth of Manny and Ellie's baby. He feels left out. The herd, Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) and Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) the mammoths, Diego the saber tooth tiger (voiced by Denis Leary), Crash (voiced by Seann William Scott) and Eddie (voiced by Josh Peck), the possum brothers are drawn into an underground world where dinosaurs lurk. The mission is to rescue Sid, who has gotten himself into a world of trouble with his adopted dinosaur kids.
Unlike the previous two films, we actually get to see more of Skrat, the scruffy squirrel on his endless acorn hunt. He is the funniest thing in the film, but not the most interesting character. That goes to a gung-ho ferret named Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg). Though diminutive in size this swashbuckler with a patch over one eye is not afraid of any challenge, including a T-Rex. His courage borders on madness, very similar to the single-minded acorn madness of Skrat. There is a lot of visual imagination in the film and the artwork is very good. There are some good characters, but the story is a bit of a mess. Overall, the film rates a C+. This film is available in 3D, but I saw only the 2D version. The 3D version might warrant a higher rating, but I doubt I'll get a chance to see that version until sometime in the future when 3D technology is perfected for television.
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