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Dinosaurs and Mammoths (first posted 04.08.09)

Ice Age 3 left me a little cold…some of the jokes being a little too well aimed at the adults – especially the milking of a male Yak scene…!

As I am treading water in terms of the old writing thing, I thought I might express my thoughts about a recent viewing of Ice Age 3… No, no wait! For those that don’t have children and dismiss such things out of hand, I would say you are missing out on a genre that is particularly outstanding…

Some of my very favourite films are “kiddies” films: Aladdin, Toy Story 1 & 2, The Lion King, WALL*e, to name but a handful. In general, children’s films are clever, funny and exciting. Of course, there are the dud ones – the ones that (to be honest ) probably didn’t have that much effort put into them in the first place – but the majority of them outshine 99% of “adult” films by a country mile.

I have to confess that Ice Age was one that I had, perhaps snobbishly (Me? Surely not!), dismissed as one that was going to be poor because – at first glance – it appeared to be… actually I have no rational reason for taking a dislike to it. Pure ill-informed snobbery. It was very good. It was funny, had touching moments and was well-paced. Ice Age 2 managed to keep things going and the quality didn’t dip, so although not a sequel that betters it’s progenitor (viz: Toy Story 2), a pleasing diversion for 90 minutes (and the children love it – I did mention them, right?).

However, Ice Age 3 left me a little cold. Don’t get me wrong, this is not The Lord of the Rings or Indeed the first Star Wars trilogy, let alone Shakespeare in Love…! I am not a fanatic fan (ooh, the tautology). It was very funny in places (some of the jokes being a little too well aimed at the adults – especially the milking of a male Yak scene…!), but the plot seemed to be very poor and this is where the writing comes in. At last, we get there.

The basic premise is that under an ice sheet there is a Lost World or Land That Time Forgot type thing going on, where dinosaurs still live. Under an ice sheet. OK, I guess taking issue with the science bit would be a bit like me pointing out that the TARDIS is a little fanciful in terms of dimensional jiggery-pokery.

However, for some reason it seemed a little forced that Ice Age creatures *needed* to stumble upon some dinosaurs in order to keep the franchise going. It seemed jarring to me. There was also a few too many references from the characters to the culture of the 20th and 21st century. “Yabba-Dabba-Doo” shouts one of the Mammoths as it slides down a dinosaur’s back. For me, this kind of thing is the worse type of “breaking the fourth wall”.

(The worst EVER example of this was in Return of the Jedi, where Chewbacca – a Wookie from a galaxy a long time ago and far away – does a Tarzan call as he swings from a tree to atop an AT-ST. Argh. Just. Doesn’t. Work. They should have known that a Star Wars film is not an 80s Bond movie… I digress.)

Not that it is of any earth-shattering importance, but I came out of Ice Age 3 thinking, what can that franchise do next? The lost land of dinosaurs seemed so at odds with the first two films that I wondered if they could do the characters getting hijacked on a plane or have to break into a bank/casino/art gallery to perform a jolly amusing heist.

Actually, the latter could work if written correctly.

Hmmm. Open new file>Name: Ice Age 4…

About Richard Dinnick (52 Articles)
I am the winner of the 2012 BBC Writersroom opportunity. I write for children's and grown up TV. I have served as a BAFTA judge and producer at the Children's Media Conference. I also write books and comics.
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