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Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

FEARS that the Ice Age franchise was in danger of becoming extinct are banished completely with this fun third instalment, Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Directed once again by Carlos Saldanha, with assistance from Mike Thurmeier, the film doesn’t offer anything radically different from the first two films, but thrives on the chemistry and welcome familiarity of its engaging central characters.

What’s more, the inclusion of plenty of dinosaur action, some smart 3D effects and Simon Pegg as the voice behind one of the new characters make for a family crowd-pleaser for all ages.

The plot is pretty simple and very heavy on the age-old values of the importance of family. As mammoth couple Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) await the birth of their first-born child, Diego the Sabre-toothed tiger (Dennis Leary) wonders if he’s growing too “soft” by hanging with his pals, and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) gets into trouble when he creates his own makeshift family by hijacking some dinosaur eggs.

Scrat, meanwhile, is still trying to nab that ever-elusive nut but finds a rival and possible new love-interest in his never-ending quest.

The action hots up, however, once Sid is snatched by the angry dinosaur mum, along with her hatchlings, and the gang put aside their differences to venture into a mysterious underground world, where they encounter dinosaurs, dangerous flora and fauna and meet a relentless, one-eyed, dino-hunting weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg).

Admittedly, the emphasis on family values does get hammered home a little too often, while the Ice Age franchise is content to play things safe rather than take any Pixar-style chances.

But children [and their parents!] who have grown up with these characters won’t mind a jot, as this latest adventure puts a greater emphasis on action to really bring out the best in the superb animation and effects.

The 3D may not leap out of the screen at you, but it does embellish the overall feel of the adventure and genuinely does immerse viewers into the set piece highlights, which include a thrilling rollercoaster-ride of a chase between our heroes and a pack of pterodactyls, as well as a claustrophobic encounter with a carniverous plant.

Scrat, as ever, steals the movie and both Saldanha and Thurmeier have fun inventing new pratfalls and scrapes for him to endure, including – most memorably – an encounter in an oil bubble that shows plenty of ingenuity.

And Pegg’s newcomer Buck also proves fun once you warm up to his motor-mouthed tendencies, providing one of several worthwhile new additions to the franchise.

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is therefore a fun romp that the whole family can enjoy, even if it’s content to play to its strengths. Expect it’s box office roar to be mighty.

Certificate: U
Running time: 96mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 23, 2009