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Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Are sequels always lesser than their predecessors? That universally accepted rule of thumb has actually held up for only half of this summer’s releases. By common consensus it’s true of Transformers 2 and Terminator Salvation, but Angels and Demons and Night at the Smithsonian 2 were both an improvement on the originals. The balance tips back with this by-the-numbers animated sequel, adequate family fare but a disappointment if you really liked the first Ice Age. I didn’t see #2 in the series, Ice Age: The Meltdown, but the 2002 original was one of the better animated films of the past decade, with strong characters, interesting design, and a story that tried to use as much scientific knowledge about the age of pre-history as could be worked into a story starring talking animals. That this is no longer a concern is clear from the film’s subtitle, which doesn’t even make sense in the context of the movie. Clearly the filmmakers thought it would appeal to kids if they could work dinosaurs into the mix, so they invent a subterranean region where the large lumbering lizards escaped extinction. Whatever. Returnees Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), his expectant spouse Ellie (Queen Latifah), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo, very funny), and Diego the sabretooth tiger (Denis Leary) are joined by Buck, a swashbuckling weasel complete with eyepatch and Ahabian fixation on a particularly large dinosaur. He is voiced by Simon Pegg with even more enthusiasm than he brought to reincarnating Scotty in the new Star Trek. But the character is too flamboyantly berserk to be appreciated by young children, and soon wears out his welcome for grownups. And of course Scrat the squirrel/rat is back for lots of slapstick gags in the tradition of Road Runner cartoons, which here are the best part of the movie. There are a few too many crotch jokes for something directed at kids—one hates to think that the animators at Blue Sky studios, who seemed to be carving out an original niche for themselves, have taken to watching the Shrek series for inspiration. The kids will sit through it happily enough, but you’ll be checking your watch well before it’s over.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

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