Home > Reviews > ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS – John Powell


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The third film in the series of director Carlos Saldanha’s popular Ice Age animated features, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs continues the adventures of sarcastic woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), irritable saber toothed tiger Diego (Dennis Leary) and scatterbrained sloth Sid (John Leguizamo). With Manny and his mammoth mate Ellie settling down and starting a family, Sid decided he wants a family of his own; as such, he steals some dinosaur eggs to raise. However, a visit from the eggs’ real mother results in Sid being taken to a lush and strange underground ‘lost world’, causing Manny, Diego and the others to mount a rescue.

After scoring the successful second Ice Age movie, The Meltdown, in 2006, John Powell returns for a second tilt at the wheel here. As is always the case with his animation scores, the music is lively, large-scale, fully orchestral, and runs the gamut of emotions and styles, often within the same cue. As good as the music is, there is always a slightly disjointed, scattershot feel to his scores for films like this, which makes any kind of contiguous enjoyment difficult. Having said that, there are still some excellent individual moments, especially in his light-hearted woodwind writing and the gently prancing romantic rhythms that appear in cues such as “Pregnant”, or the gentle romance of cues like “Nite Nite”.

Some of the larger scale action material, in cues such as “Egg Roll”, “Playground”, “Flower of Death”, and the über-heroic “Buck’s Theme” sees the orchestra rampaging through light-hearted but frenzied rhythms, some of which are reminiscent of his work on Chicken Run, and are great fun indeed. The dinosaurs which form an important plot of the film have their own material, a mass of pounding jungle drums and impressive brass blasts which make cues such as “Momma”, “Plates of Woe”, “Battles” and “Rudy Fight” unexpected dramatic highlights.

There are even some occasional choral outbursts, notably in the lavish “Dinosaur Vista”, “Campfire Stories” and “To the Portal”, which are enjoyable in the moment but tend not to leave any real lasting impression due to their brevity. The only real coherent piece of thematic development occurs in the 7-minute “End Credits” suite which is quite superb. And that’s the problem with Ice Age scores in general; they are throwaway orchestral fluff, mickey-mouse extravaganzas which highlight the moment, but are immediately forgotten. The style is so all-over the place, jumping from pastiche to pastiche, with excellent moments sometimes lasting no longer than 30 or 40 seconds, it’s frustrating to sit and listen to.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Code Blue (1:44)
  • Pregnant (1:56)
  • Leaving the Herd (1:50)
  • The Cavern (0:33)
  • Magic Eggs (0:13)
  • Egg Roll (2:08)
  • The Cliff (0:19)
  • Sid’s Kids (1:36)
  • Nest (1:22)
  • Playground (1:34)
  • Scrat Finds Furry Love (0:41)
  • Momma (3:38)
  • Entry to Lost World (1:36)
  • Dinosaur Vista (0:34)
  • Meet Buck (2:59)
  • Flower of Death (2:49)
  • Nose Job (1:35)
  • Trek (1:00)
  • Chasm of Death (0:22)
  • Big Smelly Crack (3:10)
  • We Shall Raise Them Vegetarian (2:20)
  • Campfire Stories (1:19)
  • Flashback (0:59)
  • Nite Nite (0:45)
  • You’ll Never Tango (0:48)
  • Herd Crossing (0:37)
  • Plates of Woe (3:58)
  • Battle Cry (0:16)
  • Buck’s Theme (0:38)
  • Battles (4:05)
  • Over the Falls (0:13)
  • Rescues (3:33)
  • Alone Again (performed by Chad Fischer) (1:54)
  • To the Portal (0:54)
  • Rudy Fight (2:12)
  • Farewell (1:42)
  • Out of This World (0:33)
  • Buck Returns (1:08)
  • Welcome to the Ice Age (1:58)
  • At Home with the Scrats (0:26)
  • The Call of the Siren Acorn (0:16)
  • True Love for Our Hero (0:23)
  • End Credits (7:00)
  • You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine (performed by Lou Rawls) (4:26)

Running Time: 64 minutes 02 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6978 (2009)

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