Lori Forte

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Epic Review


OK

Although this adventure's premise will appeal to children, and the child within us, the film itself is far too simplistic to be a classic. But at least the animation looks terrific, with swooping action and an inventive use of nature imagery. The result is relatively engaging, consistently entertaining and never remotely suspenseful.

The story begins as teen Mary Katherine, better known as MK (voiced by Seyfried), returns home to live with her mad-inventor dad (Sudeikis) after her mother dies. Dad's house is on the edge of the forest, where he is obsessed with discovering a miniature world of beings who keep the natural world running. But his focus on work has alienated everyone in his life, and MK is still struggling to break through to him. Then she has a freak encounter with the tiny Queen Tara (Knowles), who shrinks her to two inches tall. Suddenly she's working with the Queen's chief leafman Ronin (Farrell), a rogue soldier Nod (Hutcherson), and a goofy slug and snail duo (Ansari and O'Dowd) to save the forest from the evil Mandrake (Waltz).

The script eliminates all complexity in its depiction of good and evil. Mandrake is bent on destroying the forest for no real reason, trying to bring his creeping grey decay to what is otherwise an idyllic, magical world drenched in colourful flowers, verdant ferns and trickling brooks. In other words, it's so obvious who is going to win this battle that we never for a moment worry about our rag-tag group of heroes, no matter what violence they face. So we sit back and enjoy the animators' work. While the humans look like plastic dolls, the bugs, birds, plants and critters are simply astounding, and some of the action scenes are genuinely exhilarating.

Continue reading: Epic Review

Ice Age: Continental Drift Review


Good
Very early on, this series completely jettisoned any respect for science, gleefully ignoring the laws of gravity end geology to carry on the family-friendly series of dangers encountered by this growing herd of misfit semi-prehistoric creatures. It's not very clever, but it's still good fun.

When the ice shelf suddenly cracks in two, mammoth Manny (Romano) finds himself adrift with sabre-tooth Diego (Leary), sloth Sid (Leguizamo) and Sid's toothless granny (Sykes). But as they attempt to get home, they're waylaid by a pirated iceberg sailed by Captain Gutt (Dinklage) and his scurvy crew.

Meanwhile, Manny's wife Ellie (Latifah) and their mildly rebellious daughter Peaches (Palmer) are trying to outrun the shifting continental plates. And the film's real star Scrat is on a hunt for a hidden acorn treasure.

Continue reading: Ice Age: Continental Drift Review

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Review


Good
A slightly more adventurous story breaks the trequel curse: this film is actually better than its predecessors. In addition to astoundingly eye-catching animation, this one also has a driving (albeit corny) narrative and some snappy new characters.

Mammoth Manny (voiced by Romano) is so preoccupied with the pregnancy of his mate Ellie (Latifah) that he hasn't noticed that his sabre-tooth pal Diego (Leary) is thinking of leaving to regain his mojo. Meanwhile, goofy sloth Sid (Leguizamo) wants a family of his own. So when he finds three eggs in a cavern, he decides to raise the hatchling dinosaurs as his own. Then their T-rex mother arrives, taking them and Sid into a lost underground world populated by dinosaurs, hungry plants and a swashbuckling eye-patched weasel named Buck (Pegg).

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Ice Age: The Meltdown Review


Excellent
I hated Ice Age. The prehistoric road-trip comedy arrived in theaters on the heels of the superior Shrek and paled in comparison. Even judged on its own merits, Age moved like a two-ton glacier, suffered from a by-the-numbers screenplay that failed to take one risk, and overdosed on sadistic slapstick humor last utilized by the animators of Tom and Jerry.

Needless to say, it went on to gross more than $176 million at the box office. A sequel was inevitable, and thanks to my chosen profession, unavoidable. I was prepared for the worst.

Continue reading: Ice Age: The Meltdown Review

Ice Age Review


Weak
Only in the unique cosmology of animation do we find a world where animals can talk... and humans cannot.

Ice Age is in many ways the archetypal animated flick - updated for the computer era, of course. It's a road trip populated by quirky and mismatched characters, all on an unlikely quest that they'll never complete unless they somehow manage to work together. Ray Romano voices a burly mammoth named Manfred, who stumbles upon a lost human baby (well, homo erectus at least) shortly after rescuing a useless sloth (John Leguizamo). Manfred is content to leave the thing alone, but along comes a saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) intent on taking the baby back to his pack as vengeance for his brethren killed by human hunters. Unable to convince himself to leave the baby to the tiger (who claims he will return it to the humans), Manfred and co. all venture out together as part of an uneasy alliance... while the tiger schemes to lure Manfred into a trap where he may become dinner for a hungry pack of tigers back home.

Continue reading: Ice Age Review

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