ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN
*** (out of 5)
March 31, 2006
Ray Romano as MANNY
John Leguizamo as SID
Denis Leary as DIEGO
Seann William Scott as CRASH
Josh Peck as EDDIE
Queen Latifah as ELLIE
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
BY KEVIN CARR
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“Ice Age: The Meltdown” is the perfect example of all the problems faced while making a sequel. The first “Ice Age” brought together a rag-tag group of prehistoric misfits fighting to save a human child while they faced the impending ice age. Everyone had a significant part. The characters all fit into place.
This time around, Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the saber-toothed tiger are faced with global warming. Yeah, I know that the Ice Age lasted thousands of years and not just a few seasons, but I won’t tell the writers if you won’t.
What brings the group together again is the danger of their valley home being flooded by the melting glaciers. As they try to find their way to safe ground, Manny is starting to face the reality that he might be the last of his kind. Enter Ellie (Queen Latifah), a mammoth who thinks she is a possum. Manny tries to woo her during the trip, but Ellie is playing hard to get.
The plot of the first film was decent, but in the sequel, it’s shabby at best. It’s really, really, really forced. The kids going to see the movie probably won’t notice, so it’s still a good bet for the family crowd. However, it’s clear that studio execs called some folks into their office, declared they’d make a sequel and then hired some hack to cobble together a story that somehow involves all the characters from the first film.
Instead of giving into sequelitis, as the second “Austin Powers” movie did when Michael York broke the forth wall and just told the audience to deal with the lame plot, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” tries like crazy to form a significant plot. However, the problem is that there really isn’t a place for everyone.
Taken in total, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” is Manny’s movie. After all, he is the one facing pending extinction while he tries to win the love of another mammoth with an identity crisis. However, the movie can’t just be about the lovesick, depressed mammoth. Everyone else is given a shred of plot, which never fits together quite right.
John Leguizamo’s take on the sloth in the first film stole a few scenes, so the comedy is milked at the sloth’s expense. The biggest problem with these scenes is that they are simply diversions and have no impact on the overall story of the film. And Diego’s story is even worse. He’s just a sidekick in this film, whereas his role in the first was incredibly pivotal.
Everyone’s given their cross to bear – from Manny’s fear of extinction to Diego’s fear of swimming. Ultimately, everyone has to overcome their issues to survive. This presents a decent lesson for the kiddies, but in the end it seems like one of those old Justice League comics where every superhero has to use his unique power to defeat the bad guy instead of just letting Superman kick butt.
Actually, the most entertaining parts of “Ice Age: The Meltdown” is the misadventures of Scrat, the prehistoric squirrel that keeps on his quest for the perfect nut. The original film had an awesome trailer mostly featuring Scrat, and this time around is no different. And, like the original film, there are quite a few hilarious scenes with Scrat that steal the show.
In many ways, I wish this film would have been 90 minutes of Scrat chasing that stupid acorn, but that’s just me.
As far as family films go, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” will satisfy the kids. It’s better than “Shark Tale,” but doesn’t hold a candle to the Pixar releases. With CGI becoming the standard for animated films, and a year filled with oodles of computer-generated flicks, this movie hits the bulge in the bell curve.