Following a similar trajectory to its 2002 predecessor while incorporating a more colourful palette reminiscent of Madagascar, Ice Age 2 has enough four-legged frolics, exciting set-pieces and digital wizardry to please the original’s many fans and attract a few more. Though director Carlos Saldanha’s sequel has some aggravating pop-culture references and obvious movie parodies, the prehistoric setting gives it an edge over the usual anthropomorphic fare. Plus, it has a secret weapon: squirrel-rat hybrid Scrat, whose relentless pursuit of the perfect acorn gives the film some perfectly realised comic vignettes.
If there’s a weakness here, it’s the new characters that join Leguizamo’s goofy sloth, Leary’s wily tiger and Romano’s morbid mammoth on their trek to drier ground. Given the first flick was an all-male affair, it must have seemed smart to give Manny a woolly nelly to romance. But Queen Latifah’s brassy soul-sista shtick unbalances the subtle chemistry between the three guys. She also comes with a pair of manic marsupial siblings whose anarchic antics make you wish there were some of Pixar’s Cars around to turn them into roadkill.
For the most part, however, this sequel confidently juggles its humorous elements with well-handled action beats involving two fierce amphibious beasties, a treacherous mountain pass and a Biblical flood. A baby mammoth flashback pushes the same tear-jerking buttons as the Jessie The Cowgirl song from Toy Story 2, while Meltdown’s level of wit and invention leaves the recent Chicken Little looking battered. And if Saldanha’s film repeats the original’s flaw of not fully integrating the wonderful Scrat into the main narrative, it does make the persistent rodent instrumental in the heroes’ redemption. Proof, then, that big things do grow from little acorns.
A pacy, polished sequel, easily equal to the first Ice Age movie. Entertainingly wet and wacky - with the squirrel stealing the show.