iceageIf you’re a fan of this popular franchise, or have kids in your life that are, odds are you’ve already seen this third and latest entry. It’s already a huge hit, with a worldwide gross closing in on $250 million as of this writing. So this review isn’t really aimed at you, but rather the viewers who are interested in the 3D aspect of it, like I was. (My dad and six-year-old nephew hadn’t seen a 3D movie before, and though I would have preferred to see Up, which is the superior movie, Ice Age was the only game in town.) I haven’t seen the other Ice Age films, but I didn’t feel I was seeing the crucial third film in the trilogy, where all the unanswered questions from the other two films finally get answered. No, it’s just the continuing adventures of an unconventional herd (read: “family”) of prehistoric mammals and the other creatures they encounter (voiced by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, and Simon Pegg, among others). It’s pretty mild, even tiresome stuff at first, though when they enter a subterranean lost world filled with dinosaurs, the movie really kicks into gear. The climatic scenes are often spectacular visually, made more so by some pretty thrilling use of 3D, so if you’re in it for the 3D, these sequences make it worth seeing. Also, Pegg as a possibly insane weasel who guides the herd through the lost world on a mission to save their friend is often hilarious. A great movie? No, not even close, but pretty entertaining once it gets past a pretty slow start.

MONKEY RATING: TWO DINO-MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

MONKEY REVIEW: WALL-E

July 3, 2008

WALL-E is that rare marvel of modern cinema: A good story, simply told. Of course, tens of millions of dollars went into making the largely photo-realistic (not to mention jawdroppingly impressive) computer animation, but the storytelling style itself is so often elemental that WALL-E begins at times to resemble a silent film, dispensing with dialogue almost altogether in its first half, relying instead on action and gesture, with the occasional song fragment. When there’s call for dialogue, it’s somewhat jarring, as if you’re awakening from the loveliest, most charming dystopian-style dream you’ve ever had. WALL-E is set in a distant future where Earth, having been rendered a wasteland, quite literally, by humans, has been abandoned, leaving the cleanup to robots like WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), essentially roving trash compactors whose neat piled cubes of trash attain skyscraper-like heights. In the decades that WALL-E has been at work, he’s attained a personality, as well as a taste for musicals like Hello, Dolly!, as he works to a clean a city along with his lone friend, a cockroach. When another robot named Eve shows up, WALL-E’s existence takes an unexpected turn. The movie’s vision of the future is grim enough to stand alongside 70’s dystopian movies like Soylent Green and Silent Running, and no doubt WALL-E found inspiration in movies like those. It’s somewhat more hopeful, though to its credit, not much more so. I liked this movie a lot, though I will say the first half of the movie works better than the second half. I was also annoyed by Eve’s tendency to blow things up, which I thought was a fairly cheap way to get laughs, but didn’t make much sense in light of what her mission turns out to be. These are pretty small caveats, however, considering how enjoyable the whole of the movie is. And don’t leave right away, as the closing credits are a delight. WALL-E isn’t a perfect entertainment, but it’s pretty darn close.

MONKEY RATING: ONE MONKEY

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)