Our trio of unlikely friends from the Ice Age is back with a bigger, better and funnier sequel to the smash hit Ice Age (2002). So is Scrat, that freaky acorn-obsessed rodent and this time he has much more screen time in this gem. CG animated movies consume me to no end. “I loves ma CG cartoons”
The story predictably begins with Scrat on a quest to safeguard his new-found acorn. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. While hauling, with great difficulty and hysterics, his prize possession up a 90° ice ridge, he sticks his acorn into the side, water spouts from the hole, which Scrat attempts to plug with his finger, then another leak and another. Soon enough, Scrat is doing his over-caffeinated impersonation of the little Dutch boy. Hilarity ensues.
And the end of the opening scene, the audience already has stomach pains from all the laughing and it’s only the beginning. The story proper then begins; we find Sid running a day camp/waterslide park for all the local kids. An icy paradise. Sid tries desperately to make his buddies believe he’s got everything under control even though the kids use him as piñata and a punching bag.
After this humiliation, he climbs to the top of the ice shelf to make the slide down “The Eviscerator”, the most dangerous slide of all that no one dare try. Soon enough, Many and Diego are on the top as well, trying to convince Sid not to jump down the slide. All their tactics lead to Diego sliding onto the shelf; the ice cracks and we witness the horrifying truth. The shelf has melted and nothing but the ice levee is holding the water from flooding the isolated and fragile ecosphere down below.
The adventure begins to evacuate the valley to “the boat” at the other end, so the vulture says. But the vulture and his friends do this because they know there will be easy pickings on the way to “the boat”
Any quest is a quest for true self, for meaning. And The Meltdown does not disappoint. Manny is continually teased for being extinct or the last mammoth and this haunts him deeply. Diego is extremely hydrophobic and will have to face his fears in this inevitable water world that is about to be born. And Sid just wants to get some respect.
But Sid’s role, unbeknownst to himself is that of the archetypical Trickster; the suffered fool whose cretinism is only the wisdom you need, which you must realise to find the true meaning of your quest and in the end, the meaning of your self. Who said this was a kiddie cartoon? That’s some deep stuff right there. The stuff mythology is all wrapped up with hilarious antics.
As with any respectable sequel, the original gang must meet new people. So it doesn’t take long before our mismatched trio becomes an even funnier sextet. They meet Eddie and Crash, the troublesome possum brothers and their sister Ellie. Ellie is a mammoth raised by possums and she believes she’s a possum too. What could possibly go wrong? Everything of course, and it does.
Adventure after adventure. A mammoth romance is pushed by Sid, who wants them to repopulate the species. The newly enhanced team also has to learn to work together despite “cultural” differences or die in the bowl about to be flooded.
Trouble is never far behind, with thawed-out sea monsters tailing them under the ice. Vultures are flying high over them; there are crises of personality; Diego is frozen with fear when left on a floating ice pellet; religious fanaticism; slight sexual innuendo (but the kiddies won’t catch on); self-realisation. More laugh time than you usually afford yourself in a year. It’s all in there and a bag of chips. The flashback scene with Ellie remembering her childhood can make a grown man cry.
So I’m asking myself, where’s the Disney release? Usually when competitors release animated movies, they release a massive ad campaign, fast-food toys, tie-ins, and abuse of their ownership of ABC to promote their new movie; viciously obliterate the competition. Well they’re nowhere to be seen, because they knew they didn’t stand a chance against this magnum opus of CG animation. Ice Age sells itself, with the help of Scrat and his acorn. But it’s much more than that.
Technically this outing is one of the best-produced CG movies ever seen. It’s simply astounding what has been accomplished here. There is so much realism in a cartoonish environment: the facial expressions follow each other seamlessly and make you feel like the character is real. The animal movements and body structures are all too real. The environment is blissfully beautiful. You easily forget that it’s all CG. Since the movie revolves around flooding, the water has to look good. Imitating water with CG is said to be technically very difficult. Here they made it look easy. The water effects are astonishing. The underwater scenes are even better. It made the underwater scene of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire look like amateur filmmaking. And the tidal wave scene will make you gasp for breath. The obsessive, and perhaps compulsive, attention to the smallest detail is what makes this CG movie the finest.
Oh and we have to talk about the score. It’s luminous; it’s always just perfect for the ongoing scene and at times borders on magical, mystical; that’s just how well executed it is. It’s all orchestral music but they added tribal flutes and some Polynesian-sounding music, some really ethereal guitar and string arrangements. It brings the rhythm and the beat needed for such a movie. And the small sloth group chant is so catchy that your kids will beg you to play it over and over again once the DVD comes out.
The movie, of course, delivers some needed messages on cooperation, tolerance, love, and some eerily strange connotations to the NOLA disaster, the Tsunami, and people getting together in one united push for survival of environmental catastrophes, man-made or otherwise.
And who could ignore the myriad amount of homages to other great movies. Too many to mention — but I will anyway — and movie buffs and fan boys will relish all the reverence to the greats. Then there’s also the “camera shots” that defer to great big-budget movies like Jurassic Park and a bunch of disaster movies. When the ice damn breaks, it reminded me of the damn busting in one of the Superman movies (just can’t remember which one exactly, but I think it’s the first one). The water flow had the exact same look and feel as in the miniature shot from the Superman franchise. It was just great. And Scrat getting chased down by a new-born vulture was shot exactly like the hummer being stalked by the T. rex in Jurassic Park.
Ice Age: The Meltdown is a movie geek’s Valhalla, so it’s with no hesitance that I give it 5 ice cubes outta 5.