Yes, the sun set on the dinosaurs million of years before the Ice Age of the
wooly mammoths and saber-toothed cats, but if you can accept talking prehistoric
critters then why not a "lost world" of dinosaurs living in a tropical land
beneath the ice covering the surface of the planet? Aside from the ruining
an entire generation of future paleontologists, does Ice Age: Dawn of the
Dinosaurs at least keep them entertained? Sort of...
In Dawn of the Dinosaurs, mammoth couple Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen
Latifah) are expecting their first child. While Manny goes through a lot
of the expectant father clichs such as constantly panicking that "it's time" or
trying to "baby proof" the forest, the other members of their nontraditional
herd begin to feel a little less like a part of the herd. Diego the
saber-toothed cat (Denis Leary) decides its time for him to go his own way while
Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) begins to long for children of his own. At
this point the kids will probably be squirming, and the adults as well, as not
many people seek out entertainment in the form of animated creatures confronting
middle age, biological clocks, and large, hairy elephants discussing impending
parenthood. Luckily for the film and its viewers, Sid eventually discovers
a trio of eggs in a cave and immediately decides to adopt them as his own.
The eggs turn out to be dinosaur eggs and when they hatch baby T-Rex dinosaurs,
Sid finds that parenthood is actually a pretty difficult job - yes, at this
point we're still on the adult-themed subtexts. Soon mama comes calling
and whisks Sid and babies to a land under the ice populated with all manner of
dinosaurs, and the herd goes underground to rescue their friend.
Underground the physical comedy takes over, as the herd is led through the
dangerous new country by a crazed, one-eyed weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg).
With comic relief coming in all directions from Sid, Buck, a pair of slightly
stupid opossums, and the prehistoric squirrel Scrat, everyone will be
entertained enough to barely notice that there's not much going on here besides
the transition from one crazy sequence to the next, or that the friendship
between Manny and Diego seems awfully awkward and superficial. Most of the
spotlight belongs to Scrat, whose sysiphusian quest to claim the last acorn on
Earth is complicated by the appearance of an appearance of a female of his
species. The nonverbal and wildly choreographed interactions between Scrat,
Scratte, and the acorn are by far the most clever part of the film (the tango
scene between Scrat and Scratte is particularly clever), and will
have you wishing that a lot less time was wasted following the herd.
This release of the film is on a three-disc combo pack which includes the
film and its features on a Blu-ray disc, a DVD version of the film (sans
features outside of a commentary track), and a digital copy disc for
transferring the movie to a PC, Mac, or iPod/iPhone. Blu-ray owners will
appreciate the extra DVD for travel, but those without a Blu-ray player will
miss out on the substantial number of features that come on the Blu-ray disc.
Several features are provided on the making of the film as well as are a
collection of deleted scenes. The highlight of the special features,
though, is the "Scrat Pack". This is a collection of Scrat-themed features
including including two shorts and a collection of featurettes that will
entertain fans of the sabre-toothed squirrel. As for the movie itself on
Blu-ray, you don't get the 3D that was a part of the film's theatrical release,
but you do get excellent picture quality that shows off the work that went into
the animation, from the natural-looking fur on the creatures to the way snow
falls when they dust it off of themselves. The 7.1 DTS sound is also quite
impressive and perfectly mixed.
Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a long way off from matching the quality of story in
Pixar productions, but it has enough entertaining moments after the slow start
to keep kids happy and adults will appreciate the antics of Scrat, whose
sequences will call to mind animated classics of their youth. Overall, a
mixed bag, but not bad. Not great, but not bad.