I’ve been a fan of Blue Sky Studios since Bunny so it was a great thrill to score tickets to the premiere of their latest: Ice Age 3. But that thrill came with a certain amount of fear. After all, the last film in the series is easily the team’s worst and the first Ice Age, while a great introduction to a promising new studio, didn’t quite live up to their Academy Award winning roots.
So when the first act of Dawn of the Dinosaurs threatened to feature Sid (the Ice Age equivalent of Jar Jar Binks) prominently, I got worried. But here’s the thing: this time I didn’t hate him. And as soon as Simon Pegg’s deranged Buck hits the screen, IA3 never looks back — the trip he leads into the dinosaur underground zips from one rollicking action set piece to the next, with just enough character and story to hold it all together. And some of his key character sequences (take the map drawing in the sand) give goosebumps. Then it hit me: with its newest feature, Blue Sky has found its voice.
That’s why saying IA3 is no Pixar film is a compliment. The reason Dawn of the Dinosaurs feels so self assured is (save a few plot points that read like focus group requirements) it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. And that’s a fabulous update of the classic Looney Tune, with a level of cleverness to which other studios (coughDreamworkscough) can only aspire. That’s Blue Sky’s strike zone, and it seems like they know it.
It was with a bit of irony that I dressed up to go see Scrat, but in a way it makes sense. After all, as Scrat goes so does Blue Sky, and suffice to say his IA3 bookends don’t disappoint. Plus it was great fun to ride the waves of giddy enthusiasm as the folks who made the movie saw it end to end for the first time. Let’s hope the box office rewards them.