Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was surprisingly entertaining and better than the previous two films in the series.
Manny is an overprotective father-to-be with his wife Ellie. Their impending child leaves Diego feeling left out and wanting some more excitement in his life. Meanwhile, Sid too feels left out but he finds some eggs under the ice that he adopts as his own. However when three dinosaurs hatch, the gang knows there's trouble afoot. When the mother dino comes looking for her kids, she takes Sid with them into a lost world under the ice on the ground. Manny and company must venture into the unknown to save their friend and bring him back home.
I was never a big fan of the first two Ice Age movies so I didn't go into Dawn of the Dinosaurs with great anticipation. I was pleasantly surprised however, by how much I enjoyed it. The movie starts off a little slow but picks up steam as it rolls along leading to a great action sequence for the last 15 minutes of the film. The nice thing about the beginning is that the characters aren't reintroduced in a lengthy manner. The filmmakers presume that if we're coming out to see part 3, we've seen the first two parts and know who everyone is. The plot, as it is, really begins when Sid the sloth is slothnapped by the mama dinosaur and his strange little pride goes to help him out. It's a throwaway story that hides a message of acceptance of who you are and all that. It wasn't anything special but just a way to move through the movie.
The film really picks up when we're introduced to a new character, Buck, voiced by Simon Pegg. Buck is weasel who has been living in the lost world with the dinosaurs for years. Buck has gone off the deep end, having lost an eye to the giant dinosaur he calls Rudy. He has spent his life since then trying to protect others from Rudy and exact his revenge. When the motley crew arrives, Buck saves their lives and helps them track down Sid. Buck is easily the most entertaining character in the film and is extremely funny. I could never really get into the characters of this series because none of them were very exciting. But Buck changes all that. He's full of energy and is always on the verge of losing his mind, but manages to stay within the moment. All the other characters end up feeding off of his energy and thankfully, the filmmakers were willing to take the old characters and have them take a backseat to the new guy. I hope if they come back for a part 4, he comes back as well.
The problem I've always had with the Ice Age films is that I've never liked the animation style. It doesn't have the rich beauty of a Disney/Pixar film nor does it have the frantic throw-everything-at-the-wall style of Dreamworks. The Ice Age films have always been very simple looking and not very eye-catching. The beginning of Dawn of the Dinosaurs feels the same way, but once they enter the lost world, it all changes. There are action sequences galore, including a pterodactyl flight that rivals any other action scene in any film from this summer. The movie turns from a slow, plodding family film to an adventure movie with the introduction of Buck. And having the entire movie in 3D was definitely a plus. I'm not sure you have to see the movie in 3D but the adventure sequences are pretty impressive in 3D. And lastly, the movie was funnier than the last two. There were definitely more laugh out loud moments this time around, again, a lot of them coming from Buck. But even the older characters get in on the act. Was it a great movie? Not by a long shot. But is it worth seeing with your family? Definitely. The audience I saw it with was totally into the film, both young and old.
I was given the 2-disc Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs + The Scrat Pack which was pretty entertaining. If you're a fan of Scrat that is. The loveable acorn-obsessed squirrel is front and center in all the extras on disc 2. There are a couple of short films featuring him, a mockumentary feature on his 'discovery' in present day, a story on the evolution of Buck (arguably my favorite character through all three films) and a lot more. As with most animated films, it looks remarkable on HD TVs, even if you don't see it in Blu-ray. And while Amazon is selling the 2-disc for $7 more than the single disc - even the Blu-ray is cheaper than the 2-disc - if you still haven't upgraded to Blu-ray (like myself) and you want to pay a couple of extra bucks for even more entertainment, I think it's worth it. The movie is good enough to own on its own, but having even more from your favorite characters is even better.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. I'm still not a fan of the animation, but there was a lot more action and adventure this time around. Simon Pegg as Buck stole the movie and the 3D added a lot to the fun.