Archive for Ray Romano

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In an attempt to bury his acorn, Scrat inadvertently causes the break up of Pangaea. Meanwhile Manny and Ellie must deal with the trials and tribulations of their daughter Peaches, now a teenager desiring to fit in with her peers. Ellie is fine about that, but Manny becomes extremely over-protective. Peaches’ only friend is Louis, a molehog, tries to protect her as she tries to approach a mammoth named Ethan whom she has a crush on. Sid’s family returns, only long enough to drop off the elderly Granny before abandoning them both again. When Manny catches Peaches sneaking off to meet Ethan, they argue and fallout. Shortly afterward, a continental break-up separates Manny from the herd. Trapped on a moving chunk of ice with Sid and Diego, Manny has no choice but to ride out the current. Meanwhile a giant land shift encroaches on Ellie, Peaches, and those remaining on land, causing them make their way toward the land bridge.

At sea, violent weather pushes Manny and the others further away from land while Scrat, in a side adventure, finds an acorn that has a treasure map on it that directs him towards an island. Soon, after Manny, Sid, and Diego find Granny (who was sleeping inside a hollow tree stump, on the ice raft), they are captured by a band of pirates sailing on a floating iceberg as a ship led by a Gigantopithecus, Captain Gutt, who attempts to press gang them into his crew; when they refuse Gutt tries to make them walk the plank. Manny, Sid, Diego, Granny and Scrat (who was also taken captive) escape, but cause the ship to sink and Gutt’s first mate, a female sabertooth named Shira joins them out of no choice of her own.

They then find Switchback Cove, which has a current that would direct them home, but after washing ashore a remote island, Shira escapes and tells Gutt and the pirate crew (who are also on the island) of their whereabouts. Gutt, wanting revenge on Manny for sinking his ship, plans an attack. Along with the hyrax inhabitants of the island, Manny coordinates a plan to steal Gutt’s new ship to return home. Shira decides to leave Gutt, when she and Diego begin to fall in love, but she stays behind to ensure Gutt doesn’t catch the herd. Gutt and his pirates quickly make a new iceberg ship to sail after the herd, determined to get revenge. Meanwhile, Scrat, using one of the hyrax’s leaf “planes”, flies off the island, only to be swallowed by a shark.

Peaches finally begins to fit in with the mammoths her age, but accidentally insults Louis, who is referred to as a freak by the others, by saying they are not friends. When she sees the other teens’ careless disregard to the danger, she turns her back on them, warning that their extinction will come sooner than they think.

As they are sailing back, Diego, Sid, and Granny encounter monstrous sirens taking the shapes of what the group finds most attractive. Fortunately, Manny realizes this after hearing a siren, disguised as Ellie tell him something she would never say and saves them at the last second. Later, Scrat encounters a siren, taking on the shapes of Scratte (that Scrat ignores) then an acorn. Scrat immediately runs up and attempts to bury the “acorn”, but is attacked by other sirens and escapes unharmed.

Manny, Sid, Diego, and Granny soon return home only to find the land bridge destroyed in the earthquakes and Gutt and his crew made it there first and have captured Ellie and Peaches. Louis stands up for Peaches and a battle ensues between the herd and the pirates. Shira frees Ellie and helps fend off her former comrades, while Granny’s previously unseen (and claimed imaginary) pet whale, Precious, appears and turns the tables on the rest of the lot. Gutt then attempts to kill Ellie but Peaches, using her possum-like skills, manages to save her. Manny defeats Gutt in a duel and reunites with his family and friends. Later, Gutt encounters a siren taking on the shape of a female of his species and is eaten.With their home destroyed, the entire party and inhabitants then sail to an island that they found to settle down. Manny allows Peaches to “have an adventure” having gained a new respect for her and toward Louis. Shira joins the herd and becomes Diego’s girlfriend, while Louis becomes a hero among the teenage mammoths.

At the end of his journey, Scrat discovers the island on the map, know as Scratlantis (a mock up of Atlantis), but his uncontrollable urge to hunt acorns in the acorn-rich city inadvertently causes the entire island to sink and Scrat is ejected into what is now known as Death Valley.

REVIEW:

I have issues with films that just release sequels for the sake of making money, as opposed to telling a good story. My feelings toward such films turns to rage and hatred when it seems as if each film gets worse. Ice Age: Continental Drift is said by many critics to be the best of a series that should have died along with the dinosaurs.

What is this about?

The animated Ice Age series tacks on a game-changing fourth act when unexpected events set the continent in motion, sending Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) away from Ellie (Queen Latifah) and the herd and into the vastness of the open sea. The world around them is forever changed, but at least one thing remains the same: their ability to make the most of extreme climate change.

What did I like?

Pirates. I hear everyone raving about Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones, but I’ve only seen one episode since we don’t have HBO. I best know him as Simon Barsinister in Underdog and the male nanny in a few episodes of Nip/Tuck. The guy has some real acting chops, as he puts on display here as the pirate captain Gutt. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of the other Ice Age films, but Gutt and the other pirates are something to remember about this film, a much needed shot in the arm. Someone should consider a spinoff!

Scrat. A lot of people would argue that Scrat is the best thing about this franchise. You’ll get no argument from me. The things this little squirrel does just to get that acorn are highlights of the film. I just wish there was more of them, and not just what equates to a bunch of shorts featuring him.

Animation. Going back to the first Ice Age and comparing the animation to this one, it is quite obvious that two things have happened. Technology has advanced quite a ways and the animators have gotten better at what they do, because this is some gorgeous computer animation, which is saying something coming from me, someone who isn’t a fan of CG.

What didn’t I like?

Too many. It seems like in each film, they keep adding on characters. At some point, they just need to stop because, as we can see here, it hard to give each of them decent screen time. Take for instance, Ellie, she was just left over on land with her daughter, who had her own little story going on. If not for some motherly advice moments, she probably wouldn’t have been seen until the very end, if at all, once we got past that point. All the little ancillary characters that we saw in previous films and had actual relevance are there in the beginning and show up at the end as if they were a major part of the production, but up to that moment, who really even thought about them?

Rappers do not equal actors. Rappers Nicki Minaj and Drake somehow managed to get cast in this. Nicki Minaj is quickly making her way up my most hated list, mainly because she has no talent and is on a show judging singers (when she’s supposedly a rapper). Her lines were painful to listen to, but I think has I seen this before this season of American Idol started, the images of her “judging” wouldn’t be so ingrained in m head that I can’t give her fair judgement. Drake on the other hand was actually an actor at one time. It came to attention this week that he had a fairly major role in the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: Next Generation. The guy has talent, I just don’t think this was the right role for him. Sure he’s not Lil’ Wayne or Wiz Khalifa, but he still doesn’t exactly scream clean-cut, family entertainer. On that point, go back to when Queen Latifah was a rapper, and you could’ve said that same thing about her.

Stagnant. For me, this film felt a lot like a franchise that is stuck in neutral. It wants to keep going, but doesn’t know how to kick it into the next gear. Personally, I think the way this ended would be a way to end the franchise (same can be said for the others, I’m sure). If they want this to keep going, then do it with new characters. It is high time Manny, Sid, Diego, & company are put to rest. Of course, it will be just our luck that these films keep going, forgetting what they were originally about, and the next thing we know there are about 50 sequels that no one cares about. Seriously, all those sequels to The Land Before Time did was tarnish the legacy of the original…and I believe they are still making those things!!!

Is Ice Age: Continental Drift the best of the franchise? Perhaps, but as I stated earlier, I can barely remember anything about those previous films. This one at least has some memorable moments, highlighted by some great action scenes. Is this enough to justify the need for this to have been made or that this franchise keep going? The answer to that is an emphatic no. Kids will love this, though, and adults will get a kick out of some points here and there, but as a whole, I wouldn’t really recommend this, unless you’re doing an Ice Age marathon.

3 out of 5 stars

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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Ellie (Queen Latifah) and Manny (Ray Romano) are expecting their first child, and Manny is obsessed with making life perfect and safe for the family, since his first experiences as a husband and father went bad when his family was killed by hunters. At the same time, Diego (Denis Leary) finds himself unable to catch a cocky gazelle (Bill Hader) he has been stalking and decides to leave the herd, believing that he is losing his predatory nature as a tiger. Sid (John Leguizamo) grows jealous of Manny and Ellie and “adopts” three apparently abandoned eggs that he finds in an icy underground cavern and call them Eggbert, Shelly, and Yoko. Manny tells him to put them back, but Sid instead looks after the eggs, which hatch into baby Tyrannosaurus the next morning.

Although Sid tries his best to raise the three dinosaurs, their rambunctious behavior scares away all the other animals’ young and ruins a playground Manny built for Ellie’s baby. A female Tyrannosaurus, Momma, whose eggs Sid stole, soon returns and carries both Sid and her young underground, with Diego in pursuit. Manny, Ellie, Crash, and Eddie (Sean William Scott, Josh Peck) follow as well and discover that the icy cavern leads to a vast jungle populated by dinosaurs thought to be extinct. Here, an Ankylosaurus threatens the herd despite Diego’s efforts to fend it off; they are saved from a further crowd of angry reptiles by an insane, one-eyed weasel named Buckminster, or Buck (Simon Pegg).

Buck has been living in this jungle for some time and is chasing Rudy, a large albino Baryonyx, with the intention of avenging the loss of his right eye at Rudy’s hands. He agrees to lead the herd through the jungle’s perils to Lava Falls, where Momma has taken Sid and her babies. At one point, they have to cross the “Chasm of Death” which is filled with gas fumes (a mixture of helium and laughing gas, causing anyone who breathes in it to laugh uncontrollably while speaking in a high-pitched voice). Although the gas is not the actual cause of death, victims usually cannot stop laughing and thus die while trying to cross the chasm. Eventually the group manages to cross the chasm. In the meantime, Sid and Momma try to outdo each other in feeding the offspring; he loses this contest, but is soon welcomed into the family regardless. The next day, however, Sid is separated from the family and attacked by Rudy. Sid is knocked onto a loose rock slab that is floating on a river of lava and about to plummet over the falls.

As the herd moves toward Lava Falls, Ellie goes into labor and a Guanlong pack strikes, causing a rock slide that separates her from Manny and Diego. Manny doubles back to protect her and Diego fends off further attacks, while Buck takes Crash and Eddie ahead to rescue Sid. Just as he goes over the falls, the trio swoops in on a commandeered Pteranodon only to be chased by a flock of Quetzalcoatlus on the way and saves his life. Manny reaches Ellie, and there is suddenly a reaction, the cry of a newborn baby, then he sees that it is a girl. He wants to name her Ellie, or Little Ellie, but Ellie instead names her Peaches after the fruit (and the codeword they had chosen for Ellie to use if she went into labor during the trip). Sid is saddened at the fact that he never had a chance to say goodbye to “his” children as he returns to the herd and learns of Peaches’ birth.

As they venture back to the tunnel, they are shocked to discover Rudy lurking inside of the entrance. Rudy exits the tunnel and attacks at full force; Buck lures Rudy away from the group and is nearly eaten himself, before Diego saves him at the last second. Manny, Sid, Diego, and Buck manage to ensnare Rudy and knock him unconscious, but as they begin to leave, Sid trips over one of the ropes and breaks it. Rudy quickly recovers and escapes, and is about to attack Sid when Momma arrives on the scene, charging at Rudy and knocking him off a cliff before roaring her victory. As she and her children wish Sid well, Buck – now without a purpose in life since Rudy is gone – decides to join the herd and live on the surface. However, a distant roar tells him that Rudy is still alive; he changes his mind and sends the herd home, blocking off the path to the underground jungle at the same time, so nobody else can go down there anymore. Manny and Ellie welcome Peaches into their frozen world and admit that Sid did a good job looking after Momma’s children (though Manny tells Diego that he will never let Sid babysit Peaches). Diego decides to remain with the herd, while Buck stays where he wants to be: underground, battling it out with Rudy.

REVIEW:

 Both Ice Age and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown were huge commercial successes, but what about Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs? Well, for starters this thing was released in 3D, so they were going to make some money, even if only half the audience went to see it, thanks to the outrageous, overpriced tickets. That being said, it is arguably the best of the bunch.

This film franchise has been criticized for not being true to the timeline. Personally, I don’t care. Whatever happened to suspension of disbelief? Can’t kid/family films just be fn and not have to worry about being historically accurate? I mean, if you want to go that far, then you may as well go all out and say that a wooly mammoth, sloth, opossums, and sabre tooth tiger, as well as the rest of their little herd (plus whatever Scrat is), wouldnt ever be traveling together! Some people just need to get over their high and mighty elitist attitudes and enjoy something once in a while, rather than find any and everything to criticize!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way. The CG here is obviously better than the first two. Of that there is no question. If you have any doubt about that, just watch in awe of the land where the dinosaurs roam, or the detail on Manny and Ellie’s fur, or the scales on Rudy. It is impressive. Now that I’ve said that, I didn’t really see anything that warranted the use of 3D, and I feel sorry for those that wasted the extra money on the used glasses.

The plot is ok. I mean, it basically is about how the original trio is sort of drifting apart because Manny is about to become a father, Diego has gotten “soft”, and Sid wants them to stay together and be a family. A tad bit to overemotional for my taste, but I can see how it works.

I like how the movie flies along at a steady pace. Its predecessors seemed to drag a bit. I think this may be because of the action in this one, though, or maybe it is just the break from the icy world they live in.

Voice casting in here is amazing, but some seem to be giving more than others. For instance, Simon Pegg as Buck, appears to be going all out, while Denis Leary, Sean William Scott, Queen Latifah and Ray Romano all sound as if they’re just reading some lines.

When all is said and done Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs may not be the greatest film by the critics’ overpuffed standards, bt for us normal people, it is quite an enjoyable flick. Sure, it has its flaws, and that’s just fine with me. The most important thing is that it is entertaining and not boring. This is fun for the whole family and a film all will enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the opening scene, Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel climbs a glacier but accidentally opens a hole in it. The world of ice is slowly melting. The creatures of the Ice Age are all shown enjoying themselves on slides and pools made by the melting ice; among them the three protagonists of the first film: Manfred, Sid, and Diego. Sid opens a day camp, where none of the younger creatures take him seriously, nor do Manfred and Diego, which leaves Sid seeking a daring deed. Fast Tony, a local con artist is claiming that the earth will flood and that the bark and reeds which he sells are needed to stay alive. Manfred dismisses the idea, but is distracted when he sees that Sid will try to high dive from a giant waterfall; as Manfred goes with Diego to the top of the waterfall to save Sid from his act of daredevilry, they see that the pleasant weather caused the ice of the valley to melt, and it is kept from destroying the valley only by the glaciers, which have formed a dam. A turkey vulture tells the animals that a giant tree can act as a boat and save them; all soon set out to find it. As the animals begin their journey, Sid sings three songs to tease Manny about Mammoths being “extinct”.During the time that the masses of animals escape, a glacier which contains two sea reptiles from the Mesozoic era, Cretaceous and Maelstrom, breaks off.

Diego and Sid encounter two mischevious opossums named Crash and Eddie who drive them nuts. Manfred is teased about being the last mammoth alive, but meets Ellie, a female mammoth who believes she is an opossum and the sister of Crash and Eddie. Sid invites her to tag along with the group to escape the flood, and she brings her brothers. After a perilous ordeal with Cretaceous and Maelstrom, Sid finds out that Diego is afraid of water, prompting him to encourage Diego to admit and face his fears – Diego insists “Fear is for prey”, so Sid points out that Diego is behaving as if he is water’s prey. They discover an area which Ellie recalls as the place where she was adopted. She finally realizes she is a mammoth but distances herself from Manny when he suggests “saving their species”. Ellie and Manny ultimately make up when they must co-operate to save the group when the ground cracks under their feet. Sid is kidnapped by a tribe of mini-sloths who believe Sid to be a god. Sid lights a fire for them, and believes that he has finally found respect, but they plan to sacrifice him to a volcano. Sid escapes. The next morning Sid tells the others his experience but none are convinced. They find a field of hot geysers, which separate Manfred, Sid, and Diego from Ellie and her brothers.

When the flood comes, Manfred saves Ellie from drowning as she is caught in a cave (due to falling rocks), while Diego overcomes his fear of water to save Sid. Cretaceous and Maelstrom arrive, but due to Manfred’s quick thinking, they are finished off by a rock which falls on them, killing them both. The other animals are at the mercy of the water currents. Meanwhile, Scrat climbs up the glacier and at the top sticks the acorn he has into the ice. This forms a crack in the glacier, which widens into a fissure, diverting the flood and saving the animals. Scrat is then washed away. In the final scene, a herd of mammoths shows up, but Manny and Ellie decide to remain together anyway, taking Sid, Diego, and the opossum brothers along. Sid encounters the mini-sloths again – they believe Sid stopped the flood and invite him to be their leader. Diego, surprised to see the mini-sloths are real, convinces Sid to stay with the others, reluctantly admitting that Sid is a vital part of their ‘herd’. The epilogue shows Scrat having a near death experience after falling into the fissure. He enters a heaven full of acorns. Suddenly, he finds himself torn away. He unhappily wakes up, having been resuscitated by Sid.

REVIEW:

Many people were torn on whether or not there should even be a sequel to the popular Ice Age. Depending on which side of the spectrum you’re on, you could think that this was made for no other reason that to make a few bucks (something many movies seem to be made exclusively for these days) or you could think that having the further adventures of this makeshift herd would be interesting. I tend to fall in between both camps, but lean more toward the latter with this one.

I have to admit, as I was watching this tonight, I sort of dozed off. Not because of boredom, but from lack of sleep the past few night. As such, I missed bits and pieces here and there. However, even with my nodding, I was still able to follow the story and stay entertained. That is a major plus in my book.

Having said that, I didn’t too much care for the story. To me, it seemed as if in the previous film they introduced us to Manny, Diego, and Sid, and in this one they decided to add new characters for the sake of adding them. I hate it when this is done. I will say, though, that Ellie is a welcome addition, but I think she and her brothers work as one time characters, or they should be on their own like Scrat usually is. That’s just my opinion, though.

The animation is beautifully done and s obviously a step above its predecessor. Amazing what a little time and money can do for your work with CG. I’m still not a fan of the medium, but I do acknowledge when something is done well.

Wish I could give a better review for you, but as I said, I dozed off during the film, but from what I saw, this is a nice film for the entire family. How many movies can you say that about these days? It is for sure worth at least one viewing, so check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Ice Age

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film begins with a squirrel known as Scrat, who is trying to find a location to store his prized acorn. Eventually, as he tries to hide it, he causes an avalanche. He barely escapes, but finds himself stepped on by a herd of prehistoric animals. The animals are trying to avoid the ice age by migrating south. Sid, a clumsy sloth left behind by his family, is attacked by two Brontops whom he angered. Sid is soon saved by Manfred (“Manny”), an agitated mammoth who fights them off. Not wanting to be alone and unprotected, Sid follows Manny. Meanwhile, Soto, the leader of a Smilodonpride wants revenge on a group of humans by eating the chief’s son, Roshan, alive. There is an attack on the human camp, causing Roshan’s mother to be separated from the rest when she falls over a waterfall. Soto’s lieutenant, Diego, is sent to find and bring the baby back. Sid and Manny spot Roshan and her mother near the lake, having survived her trip over the waterfall. The mother only have enough strength to trust her baby to Manny before she disappears. After much persuasion by the sloth, they decide to return Roshan (nicknamed “Pinky”) but when they get to the human camp, the humans are gone. They meet up with Diego, who convinces the pair to let him help by tracking the humans. The four travel on, with Diego secretly leading them to an ambush. Soon they reach a cave where Sid and Diego learn about Manny’s past and his previous interactions with the humans, where his wife and son were killed, leaving Manny a cynical loner. At the end of the film, Diego, Manny and Sid battle Soto’s pack and a short fight ensues. Diego fights against Soto, and Soto knocks Diego out. As Soto closes in for the kill on Manny, Diego leaps and stops Soto, who wounds Diego in the process. Manny, in vengeance, knocks Soto into a wall of rocks, where sharp icicles fall on Soto, killing him. Manny and Sid manage to return the baby to his tribe, and Diego rejoins them, as the group begins to head off to warmer climates.

There is also a subplot where an animal named Scrat makes many comical attempts to bury his beloved acorn. His misfortunes include getting chased by an enormous glacier, being struck by lightning, attempting to thaw out the acorn by a fire too long so that it accidentally took the form of a kernel of popcorn, and finally getting frozen in an ice cube along with his much sought after nut. 20,000 years into the future, the ice cube washes up on the shore of an island. The sun slowly melts the cube, thawing Scrat and the ice surrounding his acorn, which is barely out of reach, and ends up being removed from the ice cube by the tide. Scrat then explodes out of the ice cube in anger and hits his head repetitively on a tree, which drops a coconut. Believing it to be a giant acorn, Scrat’s anger immediately turns to glee at this new find. He tries to pack it into the ground as he did previously with his acorns, but in the process causes a volcanic eruption, mirroring the opening scene when Scrat causes a break in the ice with an acorn.

REVIEW:

Contrary to popular belief, Ice Age is NOT a Pixar film, but it is easy to see why one would think such things, as it is one of the best non-Pixar animated films to come out in recent years.

The animation here is done in a sort of boxy style that I wasn’t a fan of when I first saw it wasn’t a fan of, but with each successive viewing it grows on me. Remembering that this is from 2002, the details are pretty good, but still could be better, especially on Manny and Scrat.

The voice casting really works. Each character seems to have been written with that particular actor in mind. I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around Ray Romano as a woolly mammoth, though, but that’s more of a personal thing rather than a knock on him.

We actually have two stories going on here. The first is the major plot involving our three major characters tryng to get a human baby back to his family. At times I was reminded of Three Men and a Baby while watching this. As they are crossing the vastness in search of the baby’s family, Diego’s pack is gearing for an ambush. Unexpectedly, we get some drama with Diego as he wrestles with whether to stay loyal to his pack or his new “herd”.

The other plot, which is very minor, is Scrat and that acorn. If you’ve ever seen any commercial for this or the other 2 films in this series, then you know Scrat is obsessed with that acorn. All I really need to say about that is he provides some of the best moments of the film.

These days its not often that a film comes out that adults and kids can agree on, yet somehow this was one of those movies. The mix of comedy, light action, and the hope of seeing dinosaurs brought everyone to see it and all were entertained. Why else would there be two sequels (aside from being a cash cow)? Trust me on this one, you’ll really love this picture.

4 out of 5 stars