Ice Age 3D melts stony hearts

With Disney holding back the release of Up, the latest

Ice Age 3D: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (U)

Directors Carlos Sandanha and Michael Thurmeier Featuring the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Dennis Leary, Queen Latifa, Simon Pegg

96 mins

Four stars

With Disney holding back the release of Up, the latest wildly successful and widely acclaimed Pixar film, till the autumn, audiences will have to make do with the third instalment of the surprisingly successful Ice Age series (the previous entry Ice Age: Meltdown is the fifth highest grossing animated movie of all time) for their cartoon entertainment this summer.

This should be no hardship; it's not a breathtaking classic like Wall-e or Toy Story but it is busy, energetic, funny and lovely to look at and kept a large bolshy crowd of children entertained on a Sunday morning. It's a leap above something like Madagascar and guest reviewer Alexia, aged 5, described it as "brilliant" and reckoned it was worth 100 stars out of five. Most of the grown ups seemed to have a that-was-better-than-expected air afterwards.

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The series concerns a group of two mammoths and other unidentified small mammal type creatures who have banded toge-ther as a herd to survive the cold times. This time they discover that there is a hidden world of dinosaurs living beneath them.

To be honest the film is a lot funnier when nobody gets to speak. The running joke about two squirrels (or Pleistocene squirrel equivalents) fighting over a nut crackles with energy and inventive visual humour.

Shrek was a film that mastered the balance between lines aimed at the parents and the children without cheapening the experience. A lot of the lines here follow a trajectory somewhere over the children's heads but beneath those of the parents. Too much of it is having the animals use contemporary slang which is just lazy; just once it would be nice to see a film that didn't include the lines "My Bad." That said, Simon Pegg turns up as a new character that's part Captain Sparrow and part Quint from Jaws and he actually has some decent lines.

The animation is a wonder. I was very taken with how beauti-fully lifelike the mammoth's fur was. In the credits it reveals that there was a group of 15 odd people just to animate the fur.