We were lucky enough to get four tickets to the prescreening of Ice Age II: The Meltdown yesterday. Despite the fact that we had about ten minutes notice to get ready and head out (the movie started at 10:00 a.m., we received the tickets at 9:25 a.m., and the theatre was almost 20 minutes away by flying SUV) and the fact that 85% of the theatre held non-English-speaking patrons who en masse refused to adhere to the rules and requests of the theatre management — even when directed to do so in their native Spanish — we had a nice movie-going experience.
There are a couple spoilers below, so if you want the movie to remain a surprise, read no further.
Every movie needs a crisis, and this one was weak. The main premise is that the sanctuary in which all the animals are currently living is essentially a bowl of ice surrounded by water. When the ice begins to melt, the fear is that the ice wall keeping back the flood of the ocean will fail. Which it eventually does. The crisis is averted when the ice at the other end of the bowl cracks (thanks to the prehistoric squirrel, Scrat!) and the water drains out. Wasn’t it a bowl surrounded by an ocean of water?! Did anyone notice that this small party of misfits somehow managed to live tens of thousands of years through the entire Ice Age?
Speaking of that lovable squirrel, I could watch an entire movie that featured only him! His antics continue to be hysterical, and this time he is more tightly integrated into the story line than he was in the previous movie, although most of his scenes have already aired in trailers. Knowing that there will inevitably be an Ice Age III, I was terribly saddened during the final scenes of the movie in which the squirrel entered the pearly gates of the Golden Acorn, his private version of Heaven.
The quality of the animation matched — if not exceeded — that of the first movie. But some of the story line fillers spoiled the sense of continuity; they felt like they were inserted just to fill up time. The worst and most pointless scene in which I fully lost the sensation of being immersed in the movie was one in which dozens of prehistoric turkey vultures sang and danced in the air like a chorus of synchronized swimmers. Granted, seconds after the scene, John Leguizamo’s Sid the Sloth pulled it back with a quick one-liner. I also couldn’t buy Queen Latifah as the voice of the potential love interest of Ray Romano’s Manny the Mammoth. Sid seemed to have more air time during this movie, and it became a bit tiring. On the other hand, Denis Leary’s Diego unfortunately seemed to have far less voiceover time this go-round.
The humor in this sequel is much less subtle and is obviously geared more to the younger crowd than the original. However, there are many laugh-out-loud — although predictable — scenes. My favorite was King Sid as the “sacrificial sloth”. And I am still laughing about the mammoth who thought she was a possum. Once you’ve seen a mammoth hanging in a tree upside down by the tail, you’re not likely to forget it!
All in all, an enjoyable, funny, albeit pedantic experience. The kids enjoyed it, and that — to me — is the most important review of all.