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Reel Critics:

‘Ice Age 3’ humor misses the mark a bit

July 09, 2009|By John Depko

The latest installment in the “Ice Age” franchise adds roaring dinosaurs to the animal matrix of the earlier films. Fuzzy mammals with their quirky ways and bulging eyes remain front and center in the plot. But they are drawn by chance into a lost world below the ice sheet where the giant reptiles still reign. Escaping safely back to the surface becomes the mission of the tiny heroes.

The sparkling animation is first-rate. But the tension and danger presented by a giant T. rex chasing small furry mammals may be too much for children younger than 5. There are chuckles and good humor sprinkled throughout. But the comic banter and pratfalls seem tired and uninspired compared to the best examples of the genre.

There are moments that promise more real comedy than the lightweight screenplay is able to deliver. You can spot the points where the dialogue pauses, expecting laughter from the audience that doesn’t always come. Overall, this is a family-oriented diversion that will entertain many but disappoint some. Waiting for the video may be the best option.

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Depp makes crime look good without eyeliner

“Public Enemies” is a bravura true crime caper from Michael Mann, the director who brought us the memorable “Heat.”

This is a visually stunning recount of John Dillinger, the FBI’s Public Enemy No. 1, who, along with other famous Depression-era criminals such as Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson, became the stuff of legend. Local farm boys make good. Or at least, they make headlines.

As Dillinger, Johnny Depp (sans eyeliner) once again has the charm and moxie to make crime look like fun. Well, except for the killing part. The film opens with a daring prison break, the first of several so bold they should only have existed in movies. The action is in-your-face and crisply executed.

Leading the team of somewhat inept G-men is straight-arrow Melvin Purvis (a surprisingly subdued Christian Bale) and J. Edgar Hoover. Billy Crudup excels as Hoover, as thick of neck and stubborn as a bulldog.

Not much time is spent on Dillinger’s life beyond the thrill of robbing banks and outwitting the law.

He did have a soft spot for hat-check girl Billie Frechette (an affecting Marion Cotillard), and their doomed love sets us up to feel sad when he gets his comeuppance in front of a Chicago theater — a fitting Hollywood ending, only the more perfect for being true.


JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

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