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Awesome: 11.84%
Worth A Look40.79%
Average: 27.63%
Pretty Bad: 19.74%
Total Crap: 0%

9 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Ice Age: The Meltdown
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by Jay Seaver

"There's three or four good cartoons smothered by this feature."
3 stars

The teaser for "Ice Age 2" kicked around for about a year before the movie came out, and delivered pretty much everything I wanted from new "Ice Age" stuff, quite frankly: Wonderfully executed slapstick featuring Scrat, the sabertoothed squirrel-rat from the first movie who wants nothing more than to recover one of the few acorns left in the desolate landscape. There's about fifteen minutes of Scrat chasing his nut in "The Meltdown", and it is by and large brilliant. The other hour-plus is more of a mixed bag.

The characters from the first movie - Scrat, Manny the mammoth (voice of Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (voice of John Leguizamo), and saber-toothed tiger Diego (voice of Denis Leary) have been living in an icy, but fairly temperate, valley. They soon discover that the dam that overlooks their home is about to burst, and soon they and the other residents are making their way to a boat that a vulture tells them is ready to take the residents of this basin to safety. On the way, they'll encounter melting icefields (Diego, like most cats, hates water and doesn't know how to swim); a crazy sloth cult; the first mammoth other than Manny that anyone has seen in a while, though Ellie (voice of Queen Latifah), however, was raised by opossums and doesn't realize she's a mammoth; and a pair of sea monsters, apparently frozen ages ago, that have thawed and are looking for fresh meat.

I suspect that Ice Age would have been best followed not by a feature-length sequel, but by a series of animated shorts or a weekly cartoon series. Many of the funniest parts of Meltdown could be extracted and play well on their own - heck, the Scrat sequence that served as the teaser worked perfectly well without the rest of the movie. The story gets a little dodgy on the larger scale, though. What's with the sea monsters? What interest do carrion-eating vultures have in telling the local animals about a boat that can take them to safety? Where does this huge, crude boat come from? The impressive entrance toward the end sort of comes out of nowhere. These are things that the kids who are the movie's primary audience are unlikely to give a second thought about, though.

As much as I may fault the screenplay, I have to admire the way director Carlos Saldanha and the folks at Blue Sky bring it to life. To a certain extent with digital animation, that's a matter of throwing time, money, and processing power at it - you can tell that more resources went into any given frame of Meltdown than a comparable frame of, say, Hoodwinked - but that severely underestimates the work that the army of people listed after the voice actors in the end credits put into it. Great technology is the tool used to execute what must have been meticulously storyboarded visual Scrat gags, and credit goes to the director and animators who hold Manny's gaze at a piece of ice the right length, and tweak the controls controlling the area around his eyes just so.

Indeed, the design and implementation of the Ice Age characters is more impressive than one might initially think. Manny gets a great deal of his personality from Ray Romano's hangdog delivery, but making the character expressive even when silent is a heck of an achievement - that trunk gets in the way of doing much of anything with his mouth, and the thick fur can make subtle expressions hard to pick up. That the animators don't have to resort to wild truck gesticulations or deforming his features very much is quite a feat. Also, the baby Ellie we see in a flashback stands a good chance of being the cutest thing to grace a movie screen this year, silently communicating a lot of emotion.

Ray Romano and Queen Latifah are the stars of the voice cast. Romano gets many of the film's best lines, and his testy delivery is dead-on. Latifah imbues her character with a great deal of youth and enthusiasm, which makes Ellie a good foil to Manny's crotchetiness. Leary's Diego has exactly the crankiness and hostility you'd expect from Denis Leary dialed down to kid-friendly intensity, and the voice John Leguizamo gives Sid is just as annoying as it was in the first movie (of course, that's its purpose - Sid's supposed to annoy us even after we've seen his good heart and warmed to him). A number of other familiar names do decent work and are recognizable after we see them in the credits - Jay Leno, Seann William Scott, Will Arnett - but none manage to be as memorable as Chris Wedge's inarticulate Scrat.

It's a fun movie - there's a great deal of fun Scrat stuff, a bunch of sadistic glee in seeing kids portrayed as little monsters in the opening scene, and a nifty set piece crossing a frozen river that could really do with being a little more solid. The sequence with a bunch of colorful mini-sloths kidnapping Sid is almost surreal without becoming totally abstract. I'd have liked a stronger finale - it's impressive enough, and with lots of flooding water and wet fur, Manny struggling to rescue Ellie and Diego facing his inability to swim, it checks everything the climax needs off a checklist, which is fine, if not inspired.

There's enough funny stuff in "Meltdown" to make it worth watching once and to entertain kids. It's a step down from its predecessor, though not far enough to make it a bad movie.

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originally posted: 04/19/06 04:22:19
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User Comments

4/14/13 Homo habilis I'd rather be mauled by a smilodon than watch this again 2 stars
9/29/12 roscoe A DROP OFF. tHE 3 new traveling partners are bad, and Diego/Sid roles were reduced. 3 stars
1/21/09 FlipperBoidSkua I wuv the movie, especially Cretaceous (the purple sea monster dude) and the vultures! 5 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. almost as good as the first one. :D 4 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner This movie is so funny! 5 stars
10/19/07 mb Not Life Changing 3 stars
8/19/07 Hollie mmm, better than i thought but quite gay. 3 stars
7/14/07 Vincent Ebriega Actually more energetic than the original, but not quite as funny. 4/5. 4 stars
12/30/06 Austin Wertman HILARIOUS 4 stars
12/20/06 Mary Too Funny, way entertaining, love the sub characters 5 stars
6/14/06 keri sanderfer it's more than a movie, it has a special message in it 5 stars
5/21/06 Darshana The best I have ever seen, simply the best 5 stars
5/15/06 chris f a good film 4 stars
4/28/06 Quigley visually stunning and great animation. not as good as #1, but scrat was hilarious as usual 4 stars
4/23/06 Mase Quick segual cash in, for children with no attention span and adults with low expectations. 2 stars
4/22/06 Pat Frederick I really liked the first one, but I wish there had been more scenes with Scrat. 4 stars
4/11/06 Justin This movie was ADORABLE. The animation was great and the storyline was cute. 5 stars
4/11/06 Anthony Better than the first one! 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych "Ice Age: The Meltdown" is simply better than the first film. 5 stars
4/05/06 Rune Andersen its better then the first one . more of everything 5 stars
4/04/06 BUMP Bump! 4 stars
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  31-Mar-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 21-Nov-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Carlos Saldanha

Written by
  Jon Vitti

  Ray Romano
  Denis Leary
  John Leguizamo
  Queen Latifah
  Seann William Scott
  Will Arnett

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