When the first "Ice Age" came out back in 2002, it became a big surprise hit. The film became the highest-grossing animated movie of that year, received many award nominations including one for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, and put Blue Sky Studios on the map to become a big mainstream animation studio. Naturally, with all that success, a sequel was inevitable. Pretty soon afterward, a second "Ice Age" was eventually announced which later went on to be known as "Ice Age: The Meltdown". While the film was once again a massive box office success, it wasn't as warmly received as the first film. Having watched it again after so many years, I can understand why. The film isn't terrible by any means and overall it's a pretty average sequel, but the film is pretty flawed and just doesn't hold the same weight as that first film did. Then again, the first film was pretty hard to top.
A few years have passed since the events of "Ice Age" and our trio of heroes, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo), and Diego (Dennis Leary) have been living in the warmer valley away from the ice age, with the only ice being a giant wall surrounding the valley. However, they soon learn that the ice behind the wall has melted and that the wall has now become a giant dam waiting to burst and flood the valley. After learning of a boat that's at the end of the valley, the trio then set off on their quest to find the boat and survive the incoming flood. Meanwhile, along the way, Manny begins to wonder if he is an ending as none of the other animals have seen in a mammoth for a long time only to run into another one named Ellie (Queen Latifah). She seems kind and sweet, though she doesn't exactly know she's a mammoth as she believes herself to be a possum along with two twin brother possums named Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott and Josh Peck). From there, the herd sets off to get to the boat on time while Manny tries to connect with Ellie and hopefully convince her of her true species.
Like the first film, the story seems simple enough. It's once again easy to follow and isn't overly complicated like the later sequels would get. However, it doesn't continue all the strengths that worked in the first film. There are some emotional moments that work well like the moment where Ellie finally realizes she is a mammoth and we learn of her origins. Like the cave scene in the first film, it's told all through the visuals and I think it was superbly done. That was probably the only moment I actually thought was well handled as the other emotional moments didn't see that grand or huge to me. The comedy in this film was also very hit and miss. Sometimes they got a big laugh from me or a mild chuckle, but other times they made me groan very loudly. The first film had some dud jokes as well, but at least it had more good ones to make up for it. In this film though, the bad jokes sort of linger which was not a good sign. As far as the animation goes, it's definitely an improvement from the first. The animals and their fur are really well defined here and I think it still looks pretty good. There are times though where some of the water animation looks pretty bad. One of the big instances happens near the end of the film and it looked simply dreadful. I still think the characters work well though. When it comes to the old ones, Manny, Sid, and Diego are all still charming and likable and even Scrat is still hilarious with his subplot trying to get his precious acorn. When it comes to the trio, they really began to expand Manny and Diego with Manny being worried about starting a new family after his old one was killed and Diego trying to conquer his fear of water. Now, let's get to the new ones. Ellie is not bad. I do think she's likable and goofy and even sweet at times and she works well off of Manny. Crash and Eddie on the other hand, I could do without. These characters did annoy me and honestly felt kind of pointless. I guess Blue Sky wanted to add some comic relief into the mix even though they kind of forgot Sid was already one. Honestly, Crash and Eddie should've been cut since they didn't add much to the film and mostly annoyed me, even though they did have one good joke. I'm also conflicted by the film not really having a major villain. There are these two sea reptiles that do chase our heroes, but they only come into contact with them twice and didn't really pose a huge threat. You could also make the argument that a group of hungry vultures were the villains, but they really didn't do much except intimidate our heroes and at one point broke out into a very awkward rendition of "Food Glorious Food" from "Oliver" which only just added more filler to the film. Speaking of filler, there's also more of it in this film and it really didn't do much for me.
Personally, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" isn't a bad sequel, but it's not a great one either. The story is nice and simple again but has some hit and miss moments, the animation is pretty good but has some bad water effects at times, and the older characters are charming once again but some of the newer characters don't work for me. This certainly isn't a bad sequel, but compared to the first "Ice Age" it simply isn't as strong. I still think it's average though and I do slightly recommend it for those curious enough to watch it, but it's definitely not a sequel I plan to watch again anytime soon.