Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5 It looks very much as if the writing’s on the wall for the traditional cartoon. Just look at the box office of recent disappointments RETURN TO NEVERLAND, ATLANTIS and TREASURE PLANET. Then look at the big-hitters; the TOY STORY films, A BUG’S LIFE, ANTZ, SHREK and MONSTERS INC. Add to that list ICE AGE, a creative hit if not an enormous smash at theatres. We’re talking the age of computer animation, my friends; we’re talking about the respectable new face of animated film making.
ICE AGE is the first full-length feature by animator Chris Wedge and, whilst the film betrays its ‘new kid on the block’ status by its C-list voice talent and its familiar, kids/adult friendly storyline, it’s an impressive effort nonetheless. Basically the film is SHREK in the snow (and in the distant past) with two mismatched misfits (Sid the comic-relief sloth and Manfred the moody mammoth) forced by circumstance to work together to return a lost human baby to his tribe. The animation is faultless and the humour is pretty sharp. In many ways ICE AGE is a more creative and less cynical effort than the likes of MONSTERS INC where the overwhelming impression was of a theme park ride in-waiting. Here the focus is more on story and character but with plenty of spectacle and hair-rising wild rides to provide the excitement. Of course it’s an American kid’s movie so there’s a bucketload of schmaltz too but it’s easy to forgive in a film which cleverly explains exactly why the dodo became extinct and why you should never trust a sabre-tooth tiger. Plenty of colour and comedy for the kids and lots of way-over-their-head adult stuff for the mums and dads. Classy.
THE DISC: A packed disc with loads to entertain the kids and plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff. There’s ‘Gone Nutty’ a brief new adventure for the main feature’s recurring squirrel character Scrat and a raft of ‘making of’ featurettes with the usual commentaries, trailers, galleries. A generous selection.