Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Director(s): Carlos Saldanha
Writer(s): Peter Gaulke, Jim Hecht and Gerry Swallow
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck and Will Arnett
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Mar 31, 2006 - Wide
The animated Ice Age: The Meltdown sees the three friends from the first film — Manny the Woolly Mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the Sabertooth Tiger (Denis Leary) — facing a new reality in the happy valley that they call home: the ice is melting. Though initially just a trickle, Manny and the gang realize that it will soon be a torrent and that unless they head for a giant log that will float them to safety (ark, anyone?), all the inhabitants of the valley will be wiped out. Though Manny is selfless in his desire to save to other species, he is a little depressed that he is the last wooly mammoth, a fact he believes in until he comes across Ellie the Mammoth (Queen Latifah). There’s only one problem and that’s that Ellie thinks she’s a possum, a belief reinforced by her possum sidekicks Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck).
The indisputable star of the film is once again Scrat (Chris Wedge), the sabre-toothed squirrel, who faces huge obstacles in his never-ending quest to get a solitary acorn. His antics are so madcap and free of constraints that they harken back to the days of Chuck Jones and Looney Tunes. I’d gladly just spend an hour or more with him but alas we just have interludes of his nutty quest.
That’s a bit of the problem here. I just don’t care enough about Manny, Sid and Diego. Even the youngest kids in the audience reacted with more abandon to Scrat’s antics than they did the starring trio. Manny has his work cut out for him trying to convince Ellie she’s a mammoth and since that’s the main focus here, Diego and Sid get their own subplots involving Diego’s fear of water (a problem when you’re facing impending flooding) and Sid’s discovery of mini-sloths that worship him (a problem…well, who doesn’t like being worshipped?). Denis Leary’s voice is appropriately menacing for a tiger. John Leguizamo has the right energy for the world’s most energetic sloth. Even the weariness in Ray Romano’s voice is right for a weary and depressed mammoth, but when the main character in the film is weary, it starts to rub off.
Just like the animals, the story just sort of slowly marches along for ninety minutes. The real problem faced by director Carlos Saldanha is that the team behind Ice Age isn’t working for Pixar or Dreamworks. The level of computer animation is a notch below what those other teams do and the ability to create warm, lovable and engaging characters — Pixar’s speciality — just isn’t felt here. The team at Blue Sky can easily convey the sweeping vistas of the melting glaciers, but they need to add some of that magic to the characters trying to escape from them.