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ICE AGE

SYNOPSIS:
It's the Ice Age and all creatures great and small are migrating south to avoid really bad frost bite. Manny the Mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), however, is a high plains drifter heading north. He's reluctantly joined by motor-mouthed goof Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo). When they rescue a human child being hunted by a pack of vengeful sabre-tooth tigers (Goran Visnjic, Diedrich Bader, Alan Tudyk), the pair set out on a perilous journey to reunite the boy with his father. Their guide is Diego (Denis Leary), a devious saber-tooth sent to lead the expedition into ambush.

Review by David Edwards:
With the success of movies like Shrek and Monsters Inc (and the prospect of an animated feature Oscar), it was inevitable that we'd start seeing more animated films. Now the venerable Fox studio has dipped its toes into the animation pool with Ice Age - and the result is an amazing journey into prehistory. The film uses that classic storytelling form, the reluctant heroes sent on an unlikely quest, as the basis for a tale about friendship that will no doubt translate well for a "family" demographic. But this isn't just a movie for kids. Helped along immensely by wise-cracking between the three leads, this film is like an enhanced version of everyone's favourite cartoons. Technically, the film is beautifully crafted, with its state-of-the-art animation creating several dazzling sequences (check out the dodos, for one). With lip-synching that's almost perfect and quite astounding light and vision effects, it's sometimes easy to forget this is animation. The only potentially jarring note is that the humans are rather more crudely rendered than the animal characters; although I suspect this may have been deliberate. For those science buffs out there, the film stays fairly true to the accepted scientific theories about the period - rest assured there are no dinosaurs (they'd died out millions of years before). The story itself won't tax the brain, with a (literally) linear plot that's easy enough for kids to follow; but which produces its fair share of surprises. Teaming the laconic Ray Romano with the manic John Leguizamo and the velvety Dennis Leary as the voice talent works perfectly. For those familiar with Romano's work on TV, the sight of his voice coming out of a huge woolly mammoth is a little disconcerting at first, but I for one soon warmed to Manny. For fans of the late great Chuck Jones, Ice Age will prove a constant delight. Even if you're not a cartoon aficionado, this charming and visually stunning film is certainly worth a look.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Strictly for kids between three and thirteen, Ice Age re-works all the animated film cliches from Snow White to the Lion King. Parts of it may even have you humming Circle of Life. It reminded me most, however, of a blend between two recent blockbusters. The Ogre-ish character (Manny) putting up with a comic relief sidekick (Sid) on a dangerous rescue mission is so very Shrek. That's the fun part. The moral part comes from Monsters, Inc., as the two mis-matched pals try to return a lost kid from whence it came. Ice Age's mission, as such, is to re-capture the magic of former animated glories, and although the film is enjoyable enough, its mediocre levels of young-audience humor and so-so moral delivery restrict it from really heating up. Ironic huh? More curious is the film's smooth, linear, un-detailed animation - a rarity in today's animation war, where one film battles to go one better than the last. In this case, the geeks at 20th Century Fox (on their first feature-length animation) have created glassy, uninspiring, almost two-dimensional surfaces. Don't expect to see every strand of hair moving on Manny's mammoth body. Even the human characters are drawn quite simply. Lacking rich visual texture, both the characters and the backgrounds appear quite dull and lifeless. While the voice talents are all cool (that's if you don't find Ray Romano's monotone too grating), the single most enjoyable character is a tiny squirrel that never says a word. Constantly trembling and desperately scrambling for a safe place to stash his one and only acorn, the squirrel is used intermittently during the film, and his amusing antics and dogged demeanor steal the show as much as sell the film during the trailer. That's one hard working squirrel! It's also an indication of how hard the film is working to keep you laughing. In spite of its mammoth ambition and heart-warming messages of teamwork, Ice Age remains a frosty, familiar affair. The computer game will probably be better.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable:
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

ICE AGE (PG)
(US)

VOICES: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Kirsten Johnson, Jack Black, Alan Tudyk, Goran Visnjic

DIRECTOR: Chris Wedge

PRODUCER: Lori Forte

SCRIPT: Peter Ackerman, Michael Berg, Michael Wilson

EDITOR: John Carnochan

MUSIC: David Newman

PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Jerry Davis

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 21, 2002







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