Movie Review - Ice Age
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 3.0 Stars
Comments: Family entertainment with some endearing characters.
Directed By: Chris Saldanha, Chris Wedge
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic
Written By: Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson, Peter Ackerman
Rated: PG for mild peril
Running Time: 1 hr : 25 min
Scripture References: 1 Peter 5:8, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 1 Corinthians 12:22-27


It's all about the characters. When filmmakers give us characters to whom we can relate and put them in stories with a strong narrative line, they've got us hooked. The makers of Ice Age have done just that with their latest CGI-animated family film.

Thanks to the acorn hunting antics of a nervous, accident-prone squirrel/rat named Scrat, the Ice Age has begun and a mixed herd of post-Jurrasic park animals are heading south... with a few notable exceptions. For different reasons of their own choosing, a woolly mammoth named Manfred (voice by Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond), a saber-toothed tiger named Diego (voice by Denis Leary, We Were Soldiers) and a silly giant sloth named Sid (voice by John Leguizamo, Moulin Rouge!) have all chosen to remain behind.

Their decision leads to a noble quest as they stumble across a baby man-child separated from its parents. Knowing that this "pink thing" will not survive the oncoming arctic climate on its own, they set off to return it to its tribe (after considerable debate). During their adventures, which are both amusing and surprising, a bond is formed between this unlikely trio and some lessons are learned about herd mentality.

The art of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI), though laborious, seems to improve with each film. In Ice Age, the set designs are imaginative and the main characters are expressive and well defined. If there is any caveat, it is that the human characters, as they've been in other CGI films, are too plastic looking when compared against the intricately crafted look of Manny the mammoth and Sid the sloth.

Bringing the expressive cartoon characters to life are some equally expressive vocal talents. Ray Romano is both warm and funny as the sullen and sarcastic mammoth with a kind and gentle heart. John Leguizamo cuts loose and is all over the vocal map as Sid the Sloth, developing a character quite reminiscent of Toontown's Roger Rabbit. Denis Leary doesn't have as showy a role but is nonetheless effective as the only meat-eater of the pack.

The script contains a number of amusing segments, including a hilarious explanation as why the dodo bird was doomed to extinction, a thrilling ride through a cavernous ice slide, and a running gag involving Scrat and his prized possession, an acorn.

A strong theme to the film concerns the safety one finds by running with a herd. This resonates with us because God has called us to operate as one, much like a herd. After Manny risks his behemoth body to save Diego's life, he rationalizes his action by saying, "That's what you do in a herd... you look out for each other."

Strength is in numbers. If an animal chooses to walk alone, he chooses to cut himself off from the strength available to him.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)

A predator, like a lion, will attack where the weakness is evident. An animal who lags behind the herd may find himself on the menu of the lion's next meal. The only thing that might keep the lion from attacking is he collective strength of the herd.

We, as born again Christians, are no different. Our strength is multiplied as we unite around the power of God granted us. There is a reason why the scriptures say:

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11 (KJV)

The reference is plural for a reason. Any one of us is ignorant of some of Satan's devices. Standing together, we can look out for each other... recognize devilish attacks when they come and help one another avoid getting cut off from the "herd" and devoured by our predator.

Michael Elliott, Movie Parables.

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