Since I became an uncle, I've come to regard the makers of Thomas and Friends and Cars as business geniuses. They know a captive market when they see one. I've seen firsthand the very powerful draw that trains, cars, and trucks have on little boys. It's absolutely amazing.
But trains and trucks weren't my thing as a kid. I was drawn to something else entirely: Dinosaurs. So, when Ice Age came out, I thought the franchise kind of shot itself in the foot by starting out with the extinction of these big draws—despite the fun it had with saber-toothed tigers and wooly mammoths.
Well, for the third film, the franchise doesn't let that little "extinction" thing get in the way of appealing to the dino-loving kids out there. Instead, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs proposes that when the ice age hit, it iced over a giant, hidden tropical world where dinosaurs still reign. Don't think too hard about the logic of how the dinosaurs could have survived. Or how the sun somehow shines in this iced-over tropical world. Or why the giant lava river wouldn't melt the ice layers above. The whole jungle-under-the-ice thing is just a device to put returning characters Manny, Diego, Ellie and Sid into a new playground full of adventure, danger (that's not too scary), and hijinks. Mission accomplished.
With more action than the other Ice Age films, a contagious spunk, and a new character who's cooler than a glacier, Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a joyful, energetic ride. And ride might be the operative word as this movie truly feels like an amusement park attraction, thanks to the very wise marriage of 3D with this action-packed journey through the center of the prehistoric Earth. The 3D is not used to have boulders fly at us or send spit water into ...