This Film is NOT a Future Release.
The Following Preview has been Archived.
April 6th, 2009:
After the events of "Ice Age: The Meltdown", life begins to change for Manny and his friends: Scrat is still on the hunt to hold onto his beloved acorn, while finding a possible romance in a female sabre-toothed squirrel named Scratte. Manny and Ellie, having since become an item, are expecting a baby, which leaves Manny anxious to ensure that everything is perfect for when his baby arrives. Diego is fed up with being treated like a house-cat and ponders the notion that he is becoming too laid-back. Sid begins to wish for a family of his own, and so steals some dinosaur eggs which leads to Sid ending up in a strange underground world where his herd must rescue him, while dodging dinosaurs and facing danger left and right, and meeting up with a one-eyed weasel known as Buck who hunts dinosaurs intently.What to Expect:
Full disclosure: I have not seen either of the previous two "Ice Age" films. From what I gather they're fairly non-objectionable, moderately witty films, neither groundbreaking nor bottom-feeding, which people of all ages may enjoy without embarrassment. I think it is very unlikely that the third installment will fail to conform to that description. There will be lovably sarcastic animals, wacky hijinks involving acorns, and acerbic grumps with hearts of gold. There will be pratfalls and pop-culture references and adorable creatures with celebrity voices (and I have to say that every time I write about animated characters with celebrity voices I flash to that scene in "Fight Club" where Tyler Durden is splicing the penis into the animated family film).
But this time, they will be in 3D. Article continues below
Now is as good a time as any to talk about 3D, because everyone else in the movie business is talking about it, and frankly if I stick just to information about this particular movie you'll be reading 1000 words about Simon Pegg. As you may have noticed, more and more films have been incorporating 3D into their releases. "Monsters vs. Aliens," which just opened as I write this, is doing gangbusters as a DreamWorks 3D release, and they have more planned. A lot more. As in, once they finish the next "Madagascar," all their animated features (including "Shrek Goes Fourth," are going to be in 3D. Fox is also planning to make the third Narnia film in 3D and is in pre-production for a huge 3D remake of "Fantastic Voyage" for release in 2010.
Now, if you're like me, and I know I am, 3D conjures up some rather cheesy imagery. Those cardboard glasses and movies structured around things flying out at you and characters doing weird stuff just so it can be all...you know. 3D!!!! Whooooooa it's crazy and it's coming right at you! More full disclosure: I have not seen a modern 3D film yet. There's only one theater in my hometown (which is kinda pathetic considering I live in a pretty large metropolitan area) that shows 3D and it's not the one I usually go to, and I just haven't gotten around to it. But from what I understand, this is not your father's 3D, if you will. It's come a long way since "Jaws 3D." I was told that 3D was beautifully and effectively incorporated into "Coraline" and that it can only get better.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, in fact, is so sold on the idea that he's totally convinced that 3D is the third revolution in film (the first two being sound and color). He is a total convert to the Church of 3D, and believes that inside a decade, every film will be made this way, not just the fantasy/animation slate. His reasoning is that we do see in 3D, after all, and as visual media trends toward hyper-realism with the advent of HD, poised to soon make all of us replace our entire film libraries again, 3D is the next logical step. He has a point. But there's a certain element of self-interest there, too. The audience for films has been whittled away over the last couple of decades by home video, premium cable, and increased variety and quality of cable programming. It'd certainly be advantageous for the film industry to espouse a film technology that isn't available at home in order to drive people back into theaters. Now, it hardly needs to be said that some manufacturers are already working on ways to make 3D-ready televisions, but the fact is that when you start talking about film techniques like IMAX and 3D, you almost need the big screen for it. To immerse yourself in a film like that and get the effect of the 3D, your peripheral vision needs to be filled with the images to cut down the non-filmed images your eyes perceive, which yank you back to reality. That just isn't possible in homes unless we start making 10-foot-wide wall-sized TV screens (and don't think there aren't some who'd be all in favor of that). Not everyone is so optimistic, either...Michael Bay thinks it's all a gimmick. But if you want to know just how much stock I put in his opinion, go read my "Transformers 2" preview
What gives me pause is that those crafty Pixar boys are on board with this, and since they seem to be incapable of doing wrong, maybe we should pay attention. The issue here is whether it's appropriate to retro-fit past films as 3D. Katzenberg compared this to colorizing old black-and-white films, as in, it's not such a good idea. Old-school 3D films were filmed in 2D and then the 3D was applied in post-production; modern 3D films are filmed as 3D films, which is a very different process. That being said, guess what? Next year, Pixar is going to re-release "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" into theaters...as 3D films. They're going back and applying the technology to these two films, in preparation for the release of the third "Toy Story" film, to be made in 3D from the outset. I must admit that just hearing Lasseter embrace this technique makes me think better of it. It's an endorsement from someone whose opinion I trust.
The other drawback to 3D is the glasses. While not the cardboard red-and-blue affairs of days gone by, you still need polarizing lenses to see the 3D effects in film. Again, it hardly needs to be said that film scientists are working on ways to make "glassless" 3D, and in my opinion, this is an absolutely necessary step if Katzenberg's vision of an all-3D cinema landscape is to be realized.
Because those glasses? They're a point of contention. Which brings us back to "Ice Age 3."
A little ways back at ShoWest, the film exhibitors' conference, a ripple of discontent ran through the attendees as word spread that Fox was going to refuse to pay for the 3D glasses necessary to view "Ice Age 3." No, surely not! Surely so. Fox is asking the theaters to pony up the roughly $1 million it'll take to purchase glasses for their 3D equipped theaters. Regal Cinemas, the largest theater chain in the country, rebelled immediately and swore it would only show the film in 2D. AMC and Cinemark are expected to make similar protestations.
Now, most of the blog and forum traffic is painting Fox as the greedy, penny-pinching villain here, but I have to say, I'm kind of on their side in this. Fox's job is to make movies. The costs inherent in doing so, i.e. paying actors, buying equipment, hiring crews and creating effects, should be incumbent upon them. The theaters' job is to show the movies. The costs inherent in doing that, like buying projectors, maintaining facilities, hiring ticket-takers and putting ads in newspapers, should be incumbent upon them. By this logic, providing the means necessary to view the film they are presenting would seem to fall into the theaters' area of responsibility. Studios and theaters are out to make a profit, understandably. If the studio wants to make the sweet dollar, they have to make the movie. If the theaters want to make the dollar, they have to show the movie. Now, the studios have already shared in the cost of equipping theaters with the necessary hardware to show films in IMAX and 3D. I don't even see why they did that, except that it's of course in their best interest to enable theaters to show the films that they make and to make them want to do so. But if the theaters can't or won't spend the money to let filmgoers get the full experience, well...the filmgoers will be goers somewhere that's else.
It does seem a bit miserly for Fox to be making such a fuss over what is, in the film business, a fairly paltry sum. But as I've talked about before in these previews, Fox isn't exactly flush with cash these days and may be searching for ways to save a buck here and there. Hollywood is enacting a lot of recession-type cost-saving measures, including slashing star salaries and perks...and yet typically, the movie business does very well in times of economic hardship, because people crave escapism and movies are one of the cheapest kind of entertainment outside the home when compared to other activities like dining out, concerts or vacations. As long as you don't buy the popcorn, that is. Fox is in more trouble than most, having had a dismal year in 2008. They're really counting on upcoming 3D releases, especially James Cameron's hotly-anticipated "Avatar," due to open this holiday season, and it would behoove them to grease the wheels for the rollout of 3D films as much as they can.
But enough about that. So, how about this new "Ice Age" movie?
When I first read the treatment, I was all "Are you kidding me with this? Dinosaurs?" I made the uncharitable but not totally unwarranted assumption that the writers were throwing all fossil records out the window and suggesting that dinosaurs somehow co-existed with woolly mammoths, when in fact several dozen million years separate the two species. But no, my pique was premature. The film is about our lovable band of icy denizens coming upon an isolated cache of dinosaurs who miraculously survived extinction. Not that such an idea isn't totally ridiculous in and of itself, but at least they're acknowledging that dinosaurs were not, in fact, supposed to be around during the last ice age. Meanwhile the mammoths are expecting a baby mammoth, Scrat meets his soul mate and there are cute dinosaur babies. Awwwww. Until they bite your hand off, that is.
The same cast of voice actors returns, with one interesting addition. Just a couple of months ago it was announced that Simon Pegg had "joined" the cast of "Ice Age 3," playing a crazy Captain Ahab-like weasel who's hunting the dinosaur who took one of his eyes. I've put the word "joined" in quotes because the idea that an actor joins the cast of an animated feature a few months before its release is about as farfetched as the idea of a musician joining the orchestra five minutes before the performance of a piece of music he's never seen before. As we know, animated features do their voice recordings first, and the animation is done off those recordings. Unless, and I suppose this is possible although I've heard no word of it, Pegg is replacing another actor and is having to match his performance to the already-complete animation (which seems like it'd be really, really difficult), Fox has somehow managed to keep Pegg's involvement a secret for several years, in which case, hats off to them. Pegg is a huge draw for a lot of filmgoers and for many, his involvement automatically elevates the cache of any film. He's also quite busy these days, so that's a score for Fox, for sure.
It's hard to imagine this movie not doing at least decent business. Summer's always a good time for family films, and the first two are popular enough to guarantee kid-filled theaters every weekend. Even if it's poorly reviewed, people are often so hard up for anything they can take their kids to that they'll cough up the ticket price. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than a trip to the water park.In Conclusion:
It's the coming of 3D! Well, it's been coming for awhile, but now it's really coming.Growing pains aside, more and more films featuring the technology are in the pipeline, so we all better get used to it. There isn't much suspense about this film's release; it'll either do fine or it'll be a huge hit. The 3D aspect could be a boost for it or not, people will see it either way.Similar Titles: Ice Age
, Ice Age: The Meltdown