Friday, May 26, 2017

Ice Age: Collision Course

Year 9, Day 146 - 5/26/17 - Movie #2,641

BEFORE: OK, I took some time yesterday to combine three of my lists (the films running on cable I haven't added yet, the films in the Academy screener pile, and the films I want to see in the theater this year) into ONE list, it's now "The List of Films to Be Added To the List".  If I can go through what's available on Netflix this weekend, I can add those films to that list too.  It's a little more work, because now every time I add a film to the Watchlist, I've got to also take it off of THAT list.  But it's still easier than maintaining three lists of films not on the main list.

Assuming I add "Bobby" to the list, which is a film with a large, varied cast, that should allow me to continue the chain past June 10.  I took a stab at that yesterday, and in fact came up with three different directions to go - one path that gets me to the film "Wonder Woman", another one which gets me to "Jimi: All Is By My Side", and a third that gets me to "Zootopia".  The first two are dead-ends, more or less, the third one has a little more promise, but I'm not that crazy about any of them - which usually means it's time to tear the chain apart and try to put it back together, only better.  But maybe if I look through all the films at the bottom of the list, or examine my back-to-school films to figure out the best way to link between them, I'll feel better about one of these possible June chains.

I'm glad I've hit a vein of animated films, because those tend to be on the shorter side - probably because of kids and their short attention spans - and that allows me to fall asleep (in the chair) a bit earlier than usual.  Last night after a short but heavy rainstorm I had to spend 45 minutes mopping up water in my basement, so it was a relief to have a shorter film scheduled - the voice of Simon Pegg carries over from "The Boxtrolls", by the way. 

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (Movie #1,617)

THE PLOT: Manny, Diego and Sid team up with Buck to fend off a meteort strike that would destroy the world.

AFTER: I can't really be faulted for not remembering where we left off with the "Ice Age" characters - I mean, I watched the last film, like, a thousand movies ago.  Literally, it was over a thousand.  With three or four years going by between installments being released, that seems about right - it's just movie math.

If I remember right, the 2nd installment "The Meltdown" dealt with something similar to global warming - which was very forward (or is it backward?) thinking for a film from 2006.  My guess is that the franchise sort of peaked too early here, because that topic has only become more and more relevant.  The 4th installment, "Continental Drift" had a similar "environmental danger" theme, as the supercontinent Pangaea started to break up, and there were different theories among the animals over what they should do to respond to this crisis.  They're very hyper-aware, these cartoon animals.  I mean, beyond the fact that they talk and think, they somehow manage to know that Earth is round, and that there are things like continents and warming trends...

But it was the third installment, "Dawn of the Dinosaurs", that probably got the most flak for being scientifically inaccurate - I mean, we all know that the age of the dinosaurs predated the age of mammals by a few million years, so why make a film that puts them on the planet at the same time, and just fills kids' heads with junk science?  It costs nothing extra to make the "Ice Age" films scientifically accurate, so why not shoot for that, and be part of the solution, not part of the problem?  We've already got too many people in this country who think that cavemen and dinosaurs lived at the same time, thanks to cartoons like "The Flintstones".  To continue these myths just isn't helping.

But that's the film where our mammoth, tiger and sloth heroes met Buck, the one-eyed weasel, and he's back for film #5, and unfortunately, so are the dinosaurs.  (I mean, it was a lost underground world populated by dinosaurs that appeared in the third film, but their presence here is still very problematic and anachronistic.)   The dinos that appear here are sort of halfway towards evolving into birds, and again, science gets thrown out the window, because we know that evolution just doesn't work this quickly.  There's one that looks like a tiny T. Rex and another that resembles a dragon, all with parrot-like wings that just couldn't possibly support their weight in flight.

(EDIT: Turns out there are things called Dromaeosauridae, which were essentially microraptor dinosaurs of various sizes with feathers, and some think of them as the possible link between dinosaurs and today's birds, but they probably didn't look like this, and anyway, my point about the speed of evolution, or lack thereof, still stands. These sure don't look like Archaeopteryx, either.)  

Buck has these stone tablets that somehow tell the history of the world, or predict the future or something (it's all pretty unclear...) and this tells him that meteors have hit the earth before, and have caused mass extinctions each time, and that's what killed all the dinosaurs.  Umm, except it didn't, as the movie also states.  (Which is it?  You can't have it both ways...) So the team of prehistoric mammals, instead of running away from the crash site, has to do the heroic thing and head FOR the crash site, to figure out a way to stop the asteroid from hitting the Earth.  Wow, we may be looking at a record number of NITPICK POINTS tonight.  Let's get started:

NP #1: Who carved the tablets?  And how would they (and Buck) know about an asteroid strike that took place millions of years ago?

NP #2: Wouldn't the place where an asteroid hits depend more on the rotation of the Earth than some magnetic spot on the Earth's surface?  I mean, any asteroid on a collision course would be traveling on a straight intercept vector, and the point of impact would then be determined by random chance, namely the changing rotation of the Earth.

NP #3: Of course, the intercept vector would be affected by Earth's gravity, which would be a factor that draws it closer to the Earth.  (So, if an asteroid or meteor even came CLOSE to Earth on a non-intercept vector, we still could be in trouble...)  The force of magnetism would be nearly irrelevant, when compared to the force of gravity, right?  So once the asteroid got THAT close, you just couldn't hope to use magnetism to change its course.  (You really need Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck and some explosives, I thought we'd established this...)  There's a little thing called momentum, too, which doesn't even seem to apply here.

NP #4: How do these animals, with their animal brains, really understand magnetism and gravity and volcanic pressure, anyway?  They've got little walnut-sized brains.  Humans didn't even understand gravity until an apple fell on Newton's head, right?  (cough...bullshit...cough...)

NP #5: There are a bunch of animals that are using the magnetism of geodes to stay eternally young - this is more junk science that doesn't belong in any movie, even a kids' movie.  Do we want the next generation to believe that magnets will help them live forever?  Sure, why not also tell them that exposing themselves to x-rays is really cool, and will help them glow in the dark?  Then they can read at night without turning on a light....

NP #6: Don't even get me started on the flying saucer stuff.  How did an extra-terrestrial civilization leave one behind on Earth, where it could get frozen into a glacier?  OK, maybe conditions were different on another planet, and life started sooner, therefore developed faster, or perhaps wasn't snuffed out by one extinction event after another, and that got them to hyperspace travel quicker, but whose ship was it?  Where are the aliens?  Did they just forget where they parked?  Where did this storyline come from, what's it doing in a prehistoric film, and why does it eventually go nowhere?  Now we're going to confuse kids more, who might now think that dinosaurs, mammals and UFOs were all on Earth at the same time...

NP #7: Why doesn't Scrat just EAT the damn acorn already, when he has a chance?  I know, he's got the biological compulsion to bury it, but he must be darn hungry by now, and wouldn't you think that the biological need to eat would be stronger?  Not funnier, of course, but stronger for sure.

I know, the main purpose here should be to tell a good story, and not necessarily push a bunch of science down kids' throats - but with the cutaways and an animated appearance by a prominent astro-physicist, there's an attempt to be all science-y anyway, it's just not any science that makes sense.  If you're going to fill kids' heads with something, why not make it accurate - kids love dinosaurs, but why have them living at the wrong time?  Why not assume that they're smart enough to learn about the world as it is (umm, was...) instead of putting the nonsensical story first?  Why does it have to be one or the other, why can't it be both?

Also starring the voices of Ray Romano (last seen in "Ted"), Denis Leary (last seen in "True Crime"), John Leguizamo (last seen in "Regarding Henry"), Queen Latifah (last seen in "What Happens in Vegas"), Adam Devine (last seen in "The Intern"), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Wanda Sykes (last heard in "Ice Age: Continental Drift"), Seann William Scott (ditto), Josh Peck (ditto), Jennifer Lopez (last seen in "The Wedding Planner"), Nick Offerman (last heard in "Hotel Transylvania 2"), Max Greenfield (last seen in "The Big Short"), Keke Palmer (last seen in "Shrink"), Jessie J, Stephanie Beatriz, with vocal cameos from Melissa Rauch (last seen in "I Love You, Man"), Michael Strahan, Randy Thom and Neil deGrasse Tyson (last seen in "Zoolander 2").

RATING: 5 out of 10 dinosaur eggs

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