There was a time when eager young movie watchers would await the release ofthe next big animated film. Such was the case with big hyped releases like ‘Beautyand the Beast’, ‘Aladdin’, and ‘The Lion King’.

However, now with the advent of computer graphics technology it appears theday of cell images and still frames has been replaced by clever technologicalwizardry. So, in the wake of CGI hits like ‘Monsters, Inc’, ‘ToyStory’ and ‘Shrek’ we find ourselves being courted by another:20th Century Fox’#146;s release ‘Ice Age’.

The movie itself offers some pretty famous voices for the characters. The premiseof the film is the Big Chill, a climactic phenomenon that forces most of theinhabitants of the arctic region to move south. Not following this trend isManfred (voiced by Ray Romano), a stubborn and reclusive woolly mammoth whodoesn’#146;t seem to be bothered by the cold. His oft-simple life gets interestingwhen he teams up with a crazy three-toed sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo) anda saber-toothed tiger named Diego (Denis Leary).

This dynamic trio teams up to return a lost human infant to his tribe similarto the conclusion of Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ (for those ofyou keeping tabs on your animated films). Unbeknownst to Manfred and Sid howeveris the fact that Diego is leading them into a trap along with his fellow connivingsaber-toothed cohorts.

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The film conveys a fable-esque moral that the concept of family is good, thetype of thing the parents always want to hear. The animation, although quiteimpressive, is not up to par with the recent masterpieces of Pixar and DreamWorks. The most entertaining segment of the film can most probably be seen inthe trailer, specifically a sequence in which a squirrel like creature namedScrat tries to store an acorn for winter and starts an avalanche.

Scrat’s frantic efforts bring to mind a computer graphic spiced up versionof a classic Warner Bros. cartoon. He pops up for a few more rounds of WB stuff,but these bits are small doses of energy in what is an otherwise fairly plainmovie.

The celebrity voices do add a certain flare to the film and tend to give somelife and energy to the otherwise flat characters. However, the likes of MikeMyers, Eddie Murphy, John Goodman and Billy Crystal need not worry about havingtheir computer graphics voiceover performances surmounted.

Surprisingly, it is Denis Leary and his depiction of Diego that has the mostpowerful effect, as Romano and Leguizamo offer adequate performances, but nothingtoo memorable. Some of the verbal jokes that are tossed in can be entertainingat times, but with regards to side humor ‘Shrek’ remains unparalleled.

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20th Century Fox’s picture ‘Ice Age’ depicts the trend of animatedfilms in the years to come. Much more stress is being placed on the effectsof computer graphics and animated technology that appears to be a mainstay.

With films like ‘Shrek’ and ‘Toy Story’ harboring so muchsuccess, the CGI market definitely seems to be appealing to moviemakers. ‘IceAge’ itself although not up to the level of its predecessors offers sometwists of humor and doses of entertainment and definitely should be checkedout by fans of the animated film. I give it 3 out of 4 stars.

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