Reviews for July 1st, 2009
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Directed by Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier.
Manny (voice of Ray Romano), a woolly mammoth, anticipates becoming a father now that his mate, Ellie (voice of Queen Latifah) is pregnant. Diego (voice of Dennis Leary), a tiger, sees that as his cue to leave the herd and fears that heís losing his saber-toothed edge. Meanwhile, Sid (voice of John Leguizamo) the sloth, another member of the herd, feels sad and lonely that he wonít have a family of his own. He finds three dinosaur eggs, draws faces on them and pretends that theyíre his children. When they hatch, he adopts them as his own, but little does he know that their mother, a T-Rex, happens to be looking for then. Soon enough, she shows up and snatches them up, taking Sid along with her into an underground world. Now itís up to Manny, Ellie and Diego, together with the possums Eddie (voice of Josh Peck) and Crash (voice of Seann William Scott), to unite in an adventure to save Sid from the T-Rex. They enter the underground world beneath the ice, where they meet Buck (voice of Simon Pegg), a weasel with an eye patch who thinks heís a pirate determined to fight any dinosaurs that come his way. Unfortunately, the screenplay co-written by Michael Berg, Peter Ackerman, Mike Reiss and Yoni Brenner feels uninspired with lazy humor that often falls flat. How many times can you laugh at Scrat (voice of Chris Wedge) the squirrel, desperately trying to catch his acorn, before it gets old? The target audience, little kids, though, will find themselves giggling and somewhat amused during those scenes, especially now that Scrat has found a female love interest, Scratte (voice of Karen Disher).When Buck the weasel/pirate shows up half-way into the film, the plot gathers a little bit more momentum, but not enough to keep you thoroughly entertained. On a positive note, co-directors Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier move the film along at a brisk pace with an ideal running time of 87 minutes. They also include CGI animation which looks impressive, especially in 3-D format. Ultimately, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has stunning animation and manages to be mildly amusing, but it fails to entertain kids and adults simultaneously and feels mostly lazy and uninspired with insufficient laughs and thrills. Number of times I checked my watch: 3 Released by Twentieth Century Fox. Opens nationwide.
Directed by Michael Mann.
In 1933, John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), the infamous leader of a bank-robbing gang, escapes from prison and continues his crime spree. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) appoints Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) as the FBI agent responsible for capturing Dillinger once and for all. At a nightclub, Dillinger flirts with a sexy coat-check woman, Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), whom he eventually romances while trying to evade getting captured or killed. The public treat Dillinger like a hero despite that heís considered by law enforcement as Public Enemy No. 1. Why precisely do the public hail him as a hero, though? It could have something to do with the fact that he robbed banks which were responsible for their financial troubles, but that isnít really explored here. What might Dillingerís motivations be for becoming a criminal? Is he crazy? Why should anyone care about him or his story? Director/co-writer Michael Mann fails to answer any of those provocative, important questions about Dillinger and doesnít bring any of the characters to life. The dull screenplay introduces characters who you never get a chance to care about or to root for. Moreover, the chemistry between Dillinger and Billie falls flat, although Marion Cotillard does radiate with her charms and genuine beauty. Johnny Depp, as usual, delivers a solid performance, but the lazy screenplay doesnít give him enough material here to chew on. Even the bank heist scenes, which should have been exciting and intense like in Michael Mannís Heat, lack palpable tension, which only comes briefly during the third act. On a purely technical note, Mann includes exquisite costume and set designs and uses HD cinematography that slightly enhances the realism and makes everything look stylish, but the sound editing is subpar and often irritating with some barely audible dialogue that sounds more like mumbling. At an excessive running time of 140 minutes, Public Enemies boasts solid performances by Johnny Depp and the radiant Marion Cotillard, but suffers from excessive style over substance. It often drags and lacks insight, palpable thrills along with dramatic tension. Number of times I checked my watch: 5 Released by Universal Pictures. Opens nationwide.