Making for a fairly uneven, but enjoyable trilogy, Ice Age 3 comes thundering at us in glorious 3-D vision. But as the title suggests, things are not quite as accurate here as perhaps the film makers aimed for it to be.
First things first: the idea of putting our furry friends up against the dinosaurs seems like an idea that was pitched in an office boardroom, and the mere inconvenience of historical inaccuracies as large as a brontosaurus didn’t seem to be too bothersome to anyone. The matter is addressed though in the film as Ray Romano’s mammoth, Manny, does remark that he thought those guys were all dead. What we are given here is a land existing still under the ice (funny how every land existing underground seems to have a sky and a decent amount of sunlight pouring in?), which seeks to explain the narrative cheat away.
For we are in kid’s movie territory here, folks, so we have to, or should, at least expect to be giving some little room for them to manoeuvre. Kids do, after all, tend to enjoy things more openly than us sceptical adults. Sometime far beyond our own comprehension (did anyone say Jar Jar?). But, thankfully, the Ice Age films are the sort that harness the humour for wider audiences.
The animation has stepped up a notch, the full returning cast are joined by a game Simon Pegg as an adventuring weasel (with one of those anonymous English accents in American films) as they descend into the world below to help rescue the clumsy klutz Sid, who has been kidnapped by an angry mother tyrannosaurus.
The 3-D effects, though, are maybe the hardest point to praise. When it works, it looks wonderful. Usually we get a pointy snout or a tail sticking out at us, but quite often there is very little going on in the 3-D for it to be very awe-inspiring. It isn’t that it is not good, just that it hasn’t been used to its best ability. Annoyingly, there are many shots that have no 3-D going on at all and if you are paying attention to it too much, you can start to get a bit of a headache from the glasses.
The narrative is fairly straightforward. There is a lot of parenting going on in this film, and talk about how to be a responsible parent. It all, thus, makes perfect sense when a heavily pregnant main character goes lumbering off into danger to help rescue a friend in trouble like we all do (only to end up being more of a hindrance towards the end than help).
Yet while some of the scenes feel a bit choppy and staged here, these are all divided up neatly by returning more often than ever now to the loveable little squirrel, Scrat. He’s been, without doubt, the pinnacle of the Ice Age series to date, and he is again here. This time he’s put up against a love interest, Scratte. I do wonder if the increased reliance on him is giving him too much screen time, and thus starting to steal a little of his magic (see also: Eddie Murphy’s Donkey in the Shrek films).
Yet there is enough going on here for it to all be a harmless little adventure, which is how it all feels in the end. It won’t harm the franchise, but it isn’t really progressing it any further either. It’s professionally done, solid entertainment, and paves a clear path for the almost-inevitable Ice Age 4.