a critiQal film review Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

Plot: Manny (Romano), Sid (Leguizamo) and Diego (Leary) are back. By this point, the valley they live in has started to melt. When they learn their valley is about to flood, they team up to warn everyone. Now, as the flood looms closer, they must deal with a mammoth who thinks she's a possum (Latifah) - not to mention a few nasty fish.

918 words (Est. Reading Time 4m 35s)
  • ...even the enjoyable trio of Manny, Sid and Diego aren't able to overcome the sloppy animation and ridiculous sub-plots in this tossed together sequel.

Taking their cue from Disney, Dreamworks Animation has decided to cash in on it’s success by churning out sequels to it’s popular films. The formula worked surprisingly well for them when Shrek 2 (2004) became an instant success, so now 20th Century Fox has decided to follow this path by creating a sequel to their big animated hit Ice Age (2002) as well. Thus, Ice Age: The Meltdown was created.

But, would Manny, Diego, Sid and Scrat have the some repeat power that Shrek, Donkey and Fiona evidenced, or is Ice Age (2002) one film that should have stayed sequel-free?

Thankfully, the full cast of actors have returned to lend their unique voice talents once again for Ice Age: The Meltdown. Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo, such a successful team in the first film, still mesh nicely together for this second film. However, they have lost the newness that made their unlikely trio so fun to watch, and the dialogue they have to spew this time around doesn’t even come close to the first film’s snappy banter.

Added to the cast this time around is Queen Latifah, who does a pretty good job of portraying her possom-on-the-brain character, ridiculous as that character’s actions may be. Unfortunately, Latifah, while a good choice to make this trio a foursome, isn’t able to help Romano, Leary and Leguizamo totally overcome the ridiculous sub-plots and sloppy animation that Ice Age: The Meltdown is brimming with.

The plot of Ice Age: The Meltdown centers around the end of the Ice Age, and a flood that will endanger our heroes. While their world is basically crashing down around them, a few sub-plots develop: Manny the Mammoth discovers he’s not the last of his kind and Diego the Saber-Toothed Tiger can’t swim.

What were the filmmakers thinking with the whole “last Mammoth” sub-plot? The viewer already knows how this one ends – after all, how many mammoths are roaming around today? Yup, you guessed it – none. So why bring that up for a kids’ movie? Obviously, the filmmakers had run out of ideas, and used the “last Mammoth” to focus viewers on an old standby – a love interest.

While that seems rather unoriginal, they do try to spice it up – Manny’s love interest believes she’s a possum. Yeah, one of those little guys that hang upside down from trees. Sorry, but that plot twist is idiotic.

So, since Manny’s interest is obviously purely physical since the girl is an idiot, what kind of message is that sending to kids? Who cares about brains, looks are all that matter? Way to permeate the myth a little more.

As for the Diego afraid of water thing – well, that’s a little better, but it seems to only crop up when the film has run out of other ideas.

The animation of Ice Age: The Meltdown is a letdown, plain and simple. While the first film showcased engrossing animation throughout, this sequel’s animation seems to just have been thrown together in a matter of weeks. While the main characters still retain their same look that has at least a basis in reality, the characters around them seem to have escaped from some technicolor Disney nightmare.

The other animals are all much more cartoon-y and are awash in bright colors, making them look totally out of place in Manny, Diego and Sid’s world. Whether it’s a hulking fish with pink on it, a very plastic-looking hippo, or a turtle that isn’t recognizable until he goes into his shell, the animators really dropped the ball here. If they hadn’t tried to create a firm base of reality for their main characters, the viewer could more easily accept these much more colorful and cartoon-based creatures. As is, it’s just a sad example of what happens when filmmakers try to rush a sequel.

On top of that, a few flaws appear in the animation that are apparently obvious in Ice Age: The Meltdown. The main example of this sloppy, rushed animation? Manny the Mammoth runs quite a bit in this sequel, and his running will sadly remind viewers of Snuffleupagus taking a jog. While that’s good enough for live-action “Sesame Street” (TV), it’s far below the viewer’s expectations for this film, and just looks silly.

Unfortunately, Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo’s fun trio from the original film can’t save Ice Age: The Meltdown – even with Queen Latifah added to the mix this time around. With sloppy animation, and a more cartoon-y feel to the characters around them, not to mention ridiculous sub-plots, Ice Age: The Meltdown is a prime example of what happens when filmmakers toss together a sequel.

About the only real fun the viewer will have in Ice Age: The Meltdown is watching Scrat doing his best to get his acorn – those are easily the best sequences of the film. It’s truly sad, when you realize all Scrat was basically used for in the original was to play out the title sequence. This time around, it’s as if the filmmakers knew that viewers were getting bored with their story, so they break away every so often to show off Scrat, using Scrat as a diversion so viewers won’t realize how ridiculous the rest of the film is.

Too bad, it doesn’t work on everyone – although I’m sure kids should be able to make it through fine. As for me, I took a nap partway through, safe in the knowledge I wasn’t missing much.

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