Ice Age
Fox // PG // March 15, 2002
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 19, 2002
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

The films of Pixar ("Monsters, Inc" and the "Toy Story" series) as well as PDI ("Antz"), have amazed us over the past few years with the advancement of computer-generated animation instead of the traditional, hand-drawn style. "Ice Age", a bit of a mixture of previous animated plots (there's definitely a noticable amount of "Shrek" to the proceedings), does not stun with the detail of the animation, but the scope. The icy wilds have been realized with remarkable style and even little things - droplets of water in the midst of a larger splash landing realistically - are impressively rendered.

The film opens with a massive herd of animals heading South for the Winter, attempting to outrun the oncoming snow and cold. Yet, a small group of animals are actually heading the other way; Manfred (Ray Romano), a grumpy wooly mammoth, Sid (John Leguizamo) a sloth, and Diego (Denis Leary), a tiger, have all become involved in trying to take a human baby that has been separated back to its family. Diego, on the other hand, may have other plans for his three traveling companions, as other tigers seem to lurk around every pass, awaiting the group.

"Ice Age" does start off a little on the flat side, as the introduction stage of the film needed to pick up the pace a little bit. Once the final team goes on the road in search of the humans, things start to pick up a little bit. There's a few inspired sequences, such as a terrifically funny one involving dodo birds and their attempts to secure their stash of food and other where an ice cave turns into something of a theme park ride. You've probably seen part of the best bits of the film in the trailer, a short, self-contained piece that shows a little creature named Scrat (a squirrel/rat) attempting to hide his beloved acorn and nearly being crushed by a glacier as a result. The film is not about Scrat, but his attempt to find a secure place for that acorn is a bit of a subplot that occasionally runs back into the main story and, most amusingly, ends off the picture.

The voice acting is quite good throughout the movie. Leguizamo's fast-talking sloth really could have gotten tremendously annoying, but surprisingly, I found his bits entertaining. Romano's dry gloom provides a good counterpoint as well, even if their teaming echoed the Shrek/Donkey pairing from "Shrek" a little too closely. Leary believably breaks down his character's gruff surface over the course of the film, as well.

The film may not be as consistently inspired as "Shrek" or the "Toy Story" series, but "Ice Age" deserves to stand up with many of the other recent animated efforts. The film certainly has enough humor for both adults (a sight gag about evolution got a big laugh from the audience I saw it with) and children. I'm hoping there will be further adventures with these characters and a larger adventure for Scrat.

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