It’s rare for a sequel to be on par with the original film, but Ice Age: The Meltdown is, thankfully, not a letdown. It’s also less dark than the first entry, and doesn’t carry the baggage of having to introduce the characters and scenario, which allows for a more free-flowing and buoyant effort. This one’s an easy recommendation: if you liked Ice Age, you’ll probably like this one, and if you didn’t, you probably won’t. I liked the original modestly, and came away with the same feeling here, although both have their share of weaknesses and lulls.
At the very least, at least you can’t say that this film is bogged down by excessive plotting. As the ice of the dam surrounding the valley where our protagonists live begins to melt and break down, it becomes apparent that a flood of cataclysmic proportion threatens all life there. As the creatures begin their mass exodus to get to the other side, Manny (voiced by Ray Romano, Eulogy), the hapless mammoth, begins to lament the fact that he maybe the last surviving member of his species. His fears are allayed somewhat when he encounters a female mammoth named Ellie (Latifah, Beauty Shop), although he has a hard time convincing her that they need to keep their kind alive, especially as she believes herself to be a possum.
Ice Age: The Meltdown will probably fit the bill for the intended audience of young children, most of whom just enjoy seeing funny talking animals and lots of silly, high-energy slapstick. Adults will probably be mixed in their enjoyment, but if it keeps the young ones quiet for 90 minutes, at least they will have a pleasant experience outside of the movie itself. As with most current animated fare, there is an emphasis on fast-paced, frenetic action, which can be a bit hard to take for those that don’t enjoyed frenzied, noisy films.
There are plenty of sight gags, and the usual mirth and mayhem, although they are mild in humor value, as the Ice Age series has run mostly on charm and affability, rather than on catchy zingers and genuine wit. Although many of the scenes are aimed at children, there is some mild innuendo that will keep the adults in the audience tuned in. This is the kind of film you go to for some escapism and a pleasant time, and along those lines, I suppose one can call The Meltdown a successful venture.
While this isn’t nearly the caliber we might expect from a Pixar release, it’s better than other recent 3D animated efforts, strictly for audiences that like these sorts of cutesy, computer-generated comedies. Top-notch production values help.