ICE AGE 2
ICE AGE 2: THE MELTDOWN
It is clear that Blue Sky are Pixar wannabes. While enjoyable, Ice Age and Robots both seem like they go much of the way towards but fail to fully capture the magic that Pixars films have. If you look beneath their overall amiability, Blue Skys films are formulaic. While Ice Age and Robots get by on general likeability, Ice Age 2 seems all formula. The plot seems an assemblage of predictable character arcs the two mammoths that you know are going to get together despite their initial prickliness; Diego the tough sabre-tooth tiger who refuses to acknowledge his fear or water and eventually has to conquer this to become the hero of the day; the artificial suspense sustainer of the impending flood forcing the animals to have to flee (and the flood having been given the additional, entirely generic menace of two thawed-out predators lurking beneath the waters). Other elements only seem borrowed Queen Latifahs Ellie, who refuses to acknowledge she is a mammoth instead of a possum, seems too much a copy of Ellen DeGeneress amnesiac fish in Finding Nemo (2003). The plot about the exodus across land away from the natural disaster seems photocopied from Disneys Dinosaur (2000), which in turn was uplifted from Don Bluths The Land Before Time (1988).
Everything in Ice Age 2 feels as though it had been generated by an automatic script-compiling device. The film is largely stolen by the endearingly longsuffering squirrel and his struggle to retain his acorn who this time has several comic set-pieces interspersed with the main action. These squirrel scenes are the most appealing in the film. Other comic set-pieces like Diegos attempts to catch the possums as they keep popping up out of their holes and the sequence with Sid being acclaimed the Fire King come across as silly. Other parts like the scene with the animals caught on a series of rotating rocks have an entirely mechanical feel to them as though the scene has been transplanted in from a computer game.
Blue Sky have shown that they can give Pixar and DreamWorks a good run for their money both in terms of turning out decent animated films and achieving reasonable success at the box-office. Ice Age 2 is the first fall from the grace they have enjoyed so far. One only need compare the routine feel of Ice Age 2 with Pixars following their own work up with the confident and heartfelt Toy Story 2 (1999) to see the difference between the two animation studios. To win out, Blue Sky need to make films that catch the audiences heart as Pixars work does, not make films that feel like they exist for no other reason than to make money at the box-office.