If any one movie proved that Disney no longer owned the animation market, it was Ice Age. Four years ago, Pixar had produced a few Disney-sponsored hits, and DreamWorks had cleverly positioned itself as the anti-Disney with movies like Shrek, but the animated world still basically revolved around the Mouse House in one way or another—until Ice Age came along. Produced by Blue Sky and distributed by 20th Century Fox, this prehistoric computer-animated cartoon didn't exactly revolutionize the art of storytelling, but it did exist on its own terms, and what's more, audiences flocked to it—and in greater numbers than they have gone to almost any of Disney's homegrown efforts for the past decade.
With success like that, a sequel was inevitable, and here it is. Ice Age: The Meltdown offers up more of what made the first film a hit: the woolly mammoth Manfred (voice of Ray Romano) is still coping with the loss of his family, and possibly his entire species; he and his friends, Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the sabretooth tiger (Denis Leary), escape several perilous situations as they embark on a migration together; and the story is punctuated every now and then by hilarious scenes featuring Scrat, the mute squirrel-rat who steals the show with his oft-thwarted struggles to find, keep, and hide his nuts.
Some things are different, though. You may recall that the first film ended with Sid saying, as he and his new friends walked into the sunset, "You know, this whole Ice Age thing's getting old. You know what I could go for? Global warming." In the second film, Sid gets his wish; a giant, mountain-sized block of ice is melting, and when the wall of ice bursts—for some reason it has stayed frozen, and acts ...1