Wednesday, July 08, 2009

ICE AGE – DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast (Voices): Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg
Director: Carlos Saldanha & Mike Thurmeier
Runtime: 94 min.
Rating: **
Genre: Animated, Adventure, Comedy

        It is all more of the same. If you have seen the earlier ones, there’s nothing new here. If you haven’t, you aren’t necessarily missing anything. Not a bad time to start, and never a bad option to skip it altogether. If I would term Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs a sequel, it would be a great disservice to the word, for a sequel involves an advance in the storyline, in terms of the characters, and in terms of the depth of the universe. Not here, not this one. This is where my complain about the degradation of cinema into another form of television re-surfaces, where matters are stretched to their absolute commercial limit, where skill is more or less redundant, and where the objective is to string as many jokes, or emotional moments, together is what loosely resembles a story. Some of the more incisive readers would argue that this kind of a transformation is only for the better, for television is a medium that is accessible to every which body, and cinema ought to be too. I say, as I say always, cinema is an altar for the grand. Your kid might enjoy the Ice Age movies, just as he did love the forgettable and unfunny Kung Fu Panda, and that is just about that as far as your contribution to his imagination goes. Please, for his sake, do not underestimate him. He is capable of a lot more.
        I shall not discuss the rhetoric details. The plot is more or less along similar lines, only that it now sees the dinosaurs rise up from the grave, so as to facilitate some lame references to Jurassic Park. There comes along a new character in the form of a weasel, named Buck, who is supposed to represent the folks from down under. And maybe, just cash in on Captain Jack Sparrow. Doesn’t work, simply doesn’t. Not a single moment of it is funny. I’m not saying ha-ha funny; I’m saying a little-smile funny. And reader, if you think it is, don’t lose heart. You just haven’t watched that many movies, and you are still not a discernible viewer. Five years and repetitive viewings of those astonishing films from Hayao Miyazaki, and numerous mulling over sessions, would make you realize that. The animation is state-of-the-art, but only in terms of its technicality. In terms of its imagination, it is merely run-of-the-mill. Modern animation, ironically pioneered by Pixar, it seems is only trying to liken as much of itself to the real world. The magic that a little stroke of a pencil is capable of has long been pushed to the sidelines. The best the film can come up with is making the heart-symbol of unsuspecting objects in the background, and it is so impressed by its trick that it stretches to the point of being absolutely annoying. Some of the more unenthusiastic readers would argue that this kind of a viewpoint is unnecessary for a film that is only supposed to entertain, and that this is not supposed to be art, and that it is all so cute. I watched the film in a packed theatre and I loathe that “Ah, it is all so cute and sweet that my analytical abilities were pierced” reaction. Yes reader, I’m susceptible to that too, though for a different kind of movies, and we should strive to grow up. Oh yeah, and if you need proof for the unimaginative nature of the animation at hand, just have a look at all the build up the evil Rudy gets, and what a whimper he turns out to be. And that is that.
        But there’s a different thing that has been bothering me. I speak to a friend of mine, and he dismisses my theory. And I agree with him, for films like Ice Age do not cut much when it comes to profound observations. Yet, I would want it to put it before you reader, for there might be a possibility you would want to juggle with this little idea. There’s Buck, a weasel, whose every moment of every day is spent in his pursuit to slay the enormous Rudy. Yet he does something in the end, which reminded of me of the profound moment from The Dark Knight, where The Joker’s anguish cloaked in morbid humor cries out to the Batman – You complete me. Do the Ice Age movies have a layer somewhere underneath them that wants to cry out its lonely existence? I see the characters, and in all the films they seem to be a pack of misfits, whose bond seems to be their absolute alienation from their kind. For whatever reason. And some of them find mates, the central ones, and some find obsessions. Obsessions that would divert, or maybe, fill their lonely existence. You know, like what would Tom do without Gerry? Some of the more cynical readers, and maybe the wiser, would argue that this is no more than a trick for a fourth film. The argument is solid, I shall say. But let us sit back, and ignore what the intentions were. We’ve only the finished product amongst us, and all I want to ponder is if this alludes, or maybe betrays, a few hidden emotions.

1 comment:

Aravind Ganesan said...

The later part of your post robbed me of my comments :)
Anyways, are we expecting a Ratatouille or a Wall-E here? I feel using a scale same as you used for Ghajini would help the cause?
I haven't watched the movie, but I feel the emotions expressed in your post come out when you feel that what it could have been and what it turned out to be.