New films reviewed by Graham Young and Roz Laws.

Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs ****                                                                                                                                                      Cert U, 93 mins

Britain’s under-fire education system won’t be done any favours by this new animation sequel.

It mixes up the Ice Age with dinosaurs and there aren’t any multiple choice boxes to fill in for an A* pass in Geology.

But that’s what happens when a $1 billion film franchise reaches part three.

Just like Hollywood put Dudley in the North of England for Gods And Monsters, anything will do here as long as it creates a convenient story arc that can be filled with dot-to-dot gags and spectacular chase sequences.

There are none better in this film than the moments where three dinosaur eggs are rolling and bouncing downhill at a rate of knots. And Sid the sloth has to try to keep them all safe and sound.

It’s a joyous reminder that cinema, at its best, is all about pure entertainment.

That’s why sabre-toothed squirrel Scrat (still voiced by first film co-director Chris Wedge) continues to appear intermittently with his acorn, and is now in a death-defying duel with rival/ potential love interest Scratte.

The odd couple are nothing to do with the main story, but Scrat is as integral to Ice Age as layers of pasta in a lasagne.

If dinosaurs living beneath the ice makes no sense, perhaps the film’s wider benefit will be the gentle lessons it teaches about the pitfalls of being a single parent.

Sid is very excited about the prospect of being the hatchlings’ dad.

But the reality, of course, is quite different – especially when their real mother comes storming his way.

Meanwhile, Manny (Ray Romano) and wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) are expecting their own first baby, while sabre-toothed tiger Diego (Dennis Leary) is getting a bit heavy-footed when it comes to chasing his prey.

Simon Pegg arrived late in the Star Trek remake and saved the day as Scotty. He has less success here as a show-off dinosaur-hunting weasel called Buck whose features include two protruding fangs and a little goatee.

His eyepatch and swinging cutlass suggests he’s Puss in Boots meets Captain Jack, but his behaviour is a bit too much Cristiano Ronaldo on a bad day. Subtlety isn’t his middle name.

With Ice Age 3 including plenty of lines like ‘colossal fossil’ and ‘talk to the trunk’, there’s no need to rehash Arnie’s ‘Hasta la vista’ in a film which plays out like Jurassic Park meets Jungle Book with a dash of Strictly on Ice.

Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ biggest surprise is that it resurrects the old Gilbert O’Sullivan song Alone Again, Naturally with effect. Now there’s a curly-topped dinosaur if ever there was one.

Some cinemas are showing this in 3D, including Cineworld Broad Street which now has three digital screens, and Vue Star City, which has just installed the facility in two screens.

The 3D here is more immersive than leap-out-to-shock, but remember that children under five can struggle to keep the glasses on – in which case they’ll end up seeing a blurred screen.

For them, the 2D version will surely be fun enough.
GY

Public Enemies ****                                                                                                                                                                              Cert 15, 139 mins

The economy hasn’t quite reached the depths of the Great Depression, but there’s plenty about Michael Mann’s film which feels topical.

Given the part banks played in causing the recession, it’s interesting to ponder what the public reaction would be to a charming criminal who robbed them of their cash. Would we admire this Robin Hood character?

Back in 1933, John Dillinger became a folk hero when he robbed at least two dozen banks in America and was labelled Public Enemy Number One.

The biopic starts with Dillinger (Johnny Depp) returning to prison, just weeks after his release from a 10-year sentence. But it’s just part of an audacious plot to break out his cellmates.

He meticulously plans his bank robberies and conducts them in style, gracefully leaping over counters and being kind to his female hostages.

He rules out branching out into kidnapping because “the public won’t like it”.

With his smooth patter, he sweeps hat-check girl Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) off her feet.

Meanwhile J Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) is setting up the FBI and sees catching Dillinger as his first priority. He appoints agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to hunt him down.

Determined Purvis uses modern techniques like phone tapping to track his man, but Dillinger still has the uncanny ability to evade capture and survive several shoot-outs.

With everyone dressed in overcoats, hats and firing machine guns, it’s hard to know what’s going on during these firefights.

And while Mann shoots some scenes very well, especially a slow-motion finale, other parts of this overlong film seem clumsily edited.

Still, there are some witty one-liners, drily delivered by Depp, and it’s certainly compelling. The soundtrack adds to the period feel and the convincing romance adds an extra layer to the story, though we never really discover too much about what drives Dillinger.

Yet we can’t help rooting for him, as he’s portrayed as so charismatic compared with the cruel and stupid FBI.

The good cast includes British actor Stephen Graham as trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson and Branka Katic as the woman who brought about Dillinger’s downfall. But the real star is Depp, who just nudges Public Enemies into a four-star film. Without him, it wouldn’t be nearly as watchable.
RL