fter a couple of lackluster entries, the third time proves to be the charm for the “Ice Age” series with the latest film, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”
Although nowhere in the same league as animated fare like “Wall-E,” “Up” or “Shrek,” here is a moderately entertaining 90 minutes that has just enough to satisfy both young and old.
“Dinosaurs” follows the continuing adventures of woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano) and his friends Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary).
As the film opens, Manny and his love Ellie (Queen Latifah) are expecting their first child, an event that has Sid longing to be a parent of his own.
The sloth stumbles upon a trio of dinosaur eggs that he adopts as his own. When the real mother shows up and takes her children, Sid, Manny and the rest of the gang set out on a journey to an unknown underground world.
“Dinosaurs” really doesn’t break much ground when it comes to animation or storytelling, but I found this installment much easier to take than the previous two. I think part of the charm here is the introduction of the dinosaurs and the underground world, which really allows the film to achieve a grander scale than before.
It also adds several key supporting characters - highlighted by Simon Pegg as a wacked out tour guide who really injects humor and life into the franchise.
That doesn’t mean “Ice Age” doesn’t have its problems. I’ve never got the whole subplot involving the squirrel named Scrat and his Road Runner-like quest for an acorn. It always seemed like it belonged in another movie and was just there to pad the already flimsy story.
Unfortunately Scrat returns here, although the addition of a female squirrel as a love interest makes it slightly more tolerable.
That is basically how I can sum up the entire “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” experience. Sure there are better family options out there - “Up” being the obvious answer - but “Ice Age” manages to be just enough to at least somewhat hold over families until “Harry Potter” storms into theaters next week.
DVD dud of the week
In another bad week at the rental store, I’ve decided to use this week’s selection as more of a warning than a suggestion. Sure “Knowing” (C-) proved to be a surprise spring hit, but to anyone who didn’t see it in theaters and is thinking of giving it a look on home video, here’s a tip: Don’t bother.
Despite a premise that starts out interesting, the film quickly fades into ridiculousness, with a late twist that is among one of the most absurd in recent memory.
In “Knowing,” Nicolas Cage plays John Koestler, a grieving widow and MIT professor. When his son brings home an envelope from a time capsule buried on school grounds 50 years earlier that contains random numbers, the contents are dismissed at first.
John soon realizes the numbers aren’t random, but are actually the exact dates and death tolls of every major accident in the last 50 years. The prophecy becomes even more chilling when John realizes there are several future dates remaining - including one that forecasts the end of the world.
At first “Knowing” is a rather chilling and interesting little thriller (with a couple of perfectly staged disasters by director Alex Proyas) that really sets its audience up for a huge payoff.
That payoff never comes, however, as the film takes a wild turn about three-fourths of the way in, with a revelation that felt forced just to have a means of ending the film on a somewhat positive note.
Unfortunately, that positive proves to be a huge negative, sinking what could have been a pretty interesting film.
“Knowing” is rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language and is now available on DVD.
— Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton has a big week of movies planned - with the premiere of “Bruno” and a trip to Nashville to see “Moon” and “Whatever Works.” If you want to know Micheal’s instant reaction to those films or any other movie he decides to see, you can follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mcompton428. The non-Twitter community can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.