Ice Age: The Meltdown Carlos Saldanha

Ice Age: The Meltdown Carlos Saldanha
I'll say one thing for this sequel to Ice Age: it could hardly be worse than its mediocre predecessor. And so it manages to rise exactly one feeble notch higher.

Where the original had one annoying plot strand that it flogged mercilessly, this movie has three: the tedious march to a "boat" after the glaciers surrounding our heroes' valley melt, the tortured romance between mammoth Manny (voice of Ray Romano) and an opposite number who thinks she's a possum (Queen Latifah) and the non-issue of whether sabre-toothed Diego (Denis Leary) will ever learn to swim. Sound like a pulse pounding night out? Maybe, if you're an addled seven-year-old with more money than sense, but most thinking adults will blank out early on and only be roused by their offspring when the lights come up.

Oh, there's plenty to see and hear, as the filmmakers try to show their pop-culture savvy, reaching a crescendo with an ill-advised musical number involving vultures and their appetites, but it's mostly a wit-free extravaganza full of feeble jokes and mindless uplift in the name of God-knows-what. Queen Latifah's character, in particular, gets very old very fast, as she tries to hang upside down from trees and make like her possum buddies, with her ever-credulous delivery bringing the hammer down on what was an already misconceived element.

Though the animation is slightly better than the first film's, and there's more variety in the sappy denizens of our boys' home valley, it's all for naught, as the filmmakers can't even rise to the level of even Shrek in their attempts to pat themselves on the back for cleverness. (Fox)