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Oct 12, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

I don't know how long it's even been since I saw this duo of animated sequels, but it's safe to say that it leaves me with the biggest gap between seeing a film (or two; they were seen within a week of each other) and writing a review for it. That in and of itself should say something about the quality of each film, but I'll do my best to recall and say more.

One thing is crystal clear, however; despite being a sequel ahead of the Night at the Museum series (oh, how I look forward to the inevitable Louvre edition), the makers of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs were clearly less motivated by the almighty dollar than their Museum counterparts. Perhaps owing to the intense hours needed to produce a CGI-animated film these days (much less one in 3-D), they at least produced something worthwhile and creative. Not merely content to rehash their previous outings, Dinosaurs literally adds a new world to the one previously inhabited by Sid, Manny, Diego and the gang, taking them underground (?) to a cavernous, uh, place, where the titular dinosaurs appear to have taken shelter from the cold world above them (how, exactly, there is light, heat, and vegetation in this world is not addressed, though I suppose that's irrelevant in a film filled with talking, asexual sloths that pal around with mammoths and tigers). Believe it or not, they put themselves and the lives of their delicate new families in peril, only to re-learn the power of the bonds of friendship, all the while meeting and making new friends yada yada yada. The end - that's about all I've got here. Suffice it to say that, unlike its previous installments, Ice Age 3 is still good kiddie fare, but doesn't offer much for the grown-ups in the audience.

The poorly-titled Battle of the Smithsonian, however, doesn't offer much for anyone in attendance. Eddie Murphy - er, Ben Stiller - fresh from his Hollywood-lampooning Bowfinger - er, Tropic Thunder - returns to the realm of kid flicks that has treated him so kindly over the last four years, adding yet another notch on his growing franchise belt (Madagascar, Fockers).

Though I can't say that I've had the pleasure of seeing either Meet the Fockers (Little Fockers coming soon to a theater near you!) or Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this is the worst of the bunch. Battle isn't content with just being a sequel; it has to feel like a sequel from beginning to end. More villains! More special effects! More characters in general (while marginalizing the few standouts from the first, most notably via Robin Williams' diminished role)! More nonsensicality! Even a wildly stupid (and scary) section where Stiller's son hacks - easily, of course - into the Smithsonian's website, gaining access to confidential blueprints and such - oy.

The entire affair feels more mailed in and created by a committee than the worst ripoff reality show, made on the quick to strike while the iron is still lukewarm. An inspired impersonation of Amelia Earhart by perennial Oscar contender Amy Adams doesn't even come off unscathed - were the rest of the picture more lively, her performance might've jumped it to another level; compared to the dull proceedings, I was instead merely annoyed by her verve. (I'll admit, this seems like a no-win situation for her or the movie. I can only attribute this to the general loathing I had for the movie.)

I might say more, but I really can't recall much more. I know Mrs. Fletch enjoyed the way that some classic works of art were incorporated into the film; unfortunately, they were so far in the background that the chance that children in the audience will take away anything of merit is slightly less than the amount of respect I have remaining for Stiller. Enjoy your paydays, Ben; I've spent enough time and money on you.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Fletch's Film Rating:
"I want you to punch me as hard as you can."

Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

1 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"

Branden said...

I saw the first Night at the Museum. I enjoyed the film as a family friendly movie that introduced children to history.

The sequel didn't have that magic that was in the first one. It was awful. It's sad.