Daring discoveries in "Dawn of the Dinosaurs"

July 7, 2009, midnight | By Anya Gosine | 12 years, 3 months ago

Third "Ice Age" movie contains new outlandish escapades

Dinosaurs during the ice age? Such an unfathomable idea is brought to life by director Carlos Saldanha in the third installment of 20th Century Fox's adventurous prehistoric franchise, "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." The quirky herd, which includes the mammoth couple of Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah), as well as their friends Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), is back for another lunatic adventure.

As the film begins, Manny and Ellie are eagerly anticipating a baby and are ready to settle down in a calm, family life. Sid, jealous of the mammoths' excitement over parenthood, steals three eggs found in a hidden hole, which hatch into small and lovable tyrannosauruses whom Sid nurtures as his own. All is well until the ferocious mother of the dinos captures Sid and takes him to a fantastical world under the ice where the believed-to-be extinct dinosaurs thrive, leaving it up to the rest of the gang to rescue him.

Interspersed between the action and drama is a subplot following the silly, squirrel-like creature Scrat (Chris Wedge), who in his brief appearances continues his struggle in attaining his beloved acorn. This time, he meets a female of his own species, and in their battle for nuts a charming romance develops.

Once audiences accept the physically unrealistic concept of a lush, tropical habitat flourishing under a cold, glacial wilderness, the film becomes more enjoyable. To be appreciated is the beautifully intricate animation, which brings the contrasting landscapes of icy terrain and tangled jungle to life.

Unfortunately, the humor in this third installment of the franchise is lacking in comparison to the previous two. While the characters still display their eccentric personalities from the previous movies, their comical traits, such as Diego's short temper and Ellie's free spirit, have now become dilute. Instead, we are introduced to Buck (Simon Pegg), a demented weasel native to the dinosaurs' habitat who guides the animals in their search for Sid. His bizarre anecdotes and his communication with inanimate objects rejuvenates the film and generates most of the film's laughs.

This family-fun movie does get a boost from its thrilling action scenes. Our heroes regularly encounter perilous obstacles and menacing dinosaurs, creating captivating suspense. The diverse prehistoric creatures make these scenes even more enthralling, as we watch saber-toothed cats tackling waves of small dino-lizards and a sloth being chased by a gigantic T-rex.

Though not as impressive as its prequels, "Dawn of the Dinosaurs" still executes an enjoyable and exciting adventure in which the familiar and lovable characters display a family bond to overcome obstacles.

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (94 minutes) is rated PG for some mild rude humor and peril and is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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