Ice Age

It is unfortunate that Ice Age follows on so close after Shrek and Monsters Inc, as it seems to have comparisons to both. However it is refreshing to see that Disney and Dreamworks have another contender in the CGI animation film category than themselves.  

We start by being introduced to one of the four main animal characters in Ice Age, Scratch (voiced by director Chris Wedge, actually he only screeches and cries at the most) trying to bury a nut for winter – easier said than done when everywhere is covered in ice. Meanwhile, a woolly mammoth called Manfred (voiced by Ray Romano) is on his long migration – northbound, the opposite way to everyone else. His solitary march is marred as Manfred unwittingly befriends a sloth, Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) who was abandoned by his family. The well-meaning Sid seems to attract trouble wherever he goes, including from two angry rhinoceroses that bear a grudge because Sid deprived them of the last dandelion of the season. Manfred and Sid are inseparable – regardless that Manfred isn’t keen on the idea. 

On the other side of the story, a group of sabre-tooth tigers, led by Soto (Goran Visnjic), a vicious leader whose goal is to eat the chief of the human tribes baby. During an attack on the village the mother and child escape. He sends his best hunter, Diego (voiced by the ever reliable Denis Leary) to retrieve the baby, while the rest of the tigers continue to attack the village. 

While the two ‘friends’, Manfred and Sid, continue northward, they stumble across the woman and child in a river. The woman had leap off a waterfall to escape Diego. She gives the baby to Manfred before being swept away by the current. Manfred and Sid decide to return the child to the human village over the next hill. Unfortunately they arrive too late and the humans have left after the tigers attacked.  

Under the guise of trying to help, Diego tags onto Manfred and Sid, and offers his assistance as a tracker to follow the humans. Reluctantly, Manfred and Sid agree as they cannot track the humans themselves, but they are unaware that Diego is leading them into a trap.  

There are some nice touches to Ice Age, such as only animals speak, but the film is a bit of a hits and miss affair. Comparisons to Shrek and Monsters Inc, as mentioned before, will probably be made – the relation between Manny and Sid is close to Shrek and Donkey’s forced friendship and the two characters, one large and one small, looking after a child is reminiscent of Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc. The pace isn’t as constant as it could have been, but when things tend to get a little quite, the running gag with Scratch fumbling with his nuts (cheeky cheeky!) pops up to give us a little physical comedy. 

The voice talents are good – with each voice really suiting the character. Denis Leary’s menacingly good as Diego and Ray Romano’s slow bass-filled voice suits a mammoth to a tee. John Leguizamo plays Sid with a bit of a lisp which can be annoying at time, but makes up for it with come cracking lines. 

The animation is more cartoonish than Shrek or Antz, but it’s done by design and not by poor animation. In fact this gives the film a great look to it and adds to certain scenes such as the hilarious Tae Kwon Do-dos (who reminded me of the inept suicide squad from The Life Of Brian! Dedicated to their purpose – regardless of how stupid it maybe).

Whether Ice Age will be remembered as fondly as other CGI animated films, is doubtful, as the gags don’t really come fast enough to keep things interesting all the time, and the heavy subplot involving Manfred’s family that explains his lonely journey is a little heavy.  However it is a nice little film and is a good first CGI animation effort from 20th Century Fox. Bring on the next one. 

SCORE 6/10