Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

Rating: C+

Dir: Carlos Saldanha
Star (voice): John Leguizamo, Ray Romano, Dennis Leary, Queen Latifah

This falls short of the highly-acceptable predecessor, mostly in the character arcs. The original hinged on sabertooth Diego and his decision to reject his own kind for moral reasons, though Manny the mammoth also came to terms with his own issues. There’s nothing so compelling here: they return, along with Sid the sloth, they just don’t develop further. And while evacuating before a flood, now has odd post-Katrina resonance, neither this nor the romance between Manny and Ellie (Latifah), a mammoth who thinks she’s a possum, are enough. Luckily, there are some great set-pieces, most involving either Sid, or Scrat, the acorn-avaricious squirrel, who steals the show here as effortlessly as he did first time round. Hopefully, Ice Age 3 will be entirely about him.

And, equally hopefully, free of possums, Eddie + Crash, who accompany Ellie and may be the most irritating animals of 2006. Fortunately, this is balanced by a musical number involving a tribe of mini-sloths, or vultures singing a tune from Oliver!. Overall, however, I sense the new cast are a tacit admission by the creators that the core trio couldn’t go much further. While the first one gained appeal with repeat viewing (my original grade definitely seems low – now, I’d rate it B or even B+), this doesn’t seem to have the same potential. The script here seems spat out by a computer, with a plot point every ten minutes; the clear and obvious improvement in the CGI animation isn’t enough to compensate.