Monday, February 25, 2008

Ice Age 2

The sequences with the Thief work brilliant as short bits of entertainment on their own. The Pole Vault and Tightrope sequences for example progress like a short film, there is a beginning, middle and an end. I have to admit though, that at times I had doubts about the general concept of using such “comic relief” sequences as framework for a feature film. This has been part of a lot of criticism of the “Thief” even while we were still working on it. After the film was taken from Dick, most of the footage that ended up on the cutting room floor were Thief scenes.When I watched the Recobbled Cut, it worked a bit like a time machine on me, re-awakening a lot of memories and thoughts about this, my first experience on a feature film. Around this time I also watched Ice Age 2. I might have been a bit Thief-centric at the time, but I noticed some similarities between the two movies. I felt that with Ice Age 2 they were very successful in the way they used their Scrat sequences - in my mind similar to how Dick had intended to use the sequences with the Thief character. Like the Thief, Scrat also seems to be very much inspired by the Coyote of the Roadrunner cartoons and as in the “Thief” they use 6 or 7 sequences with Scrat to frame their main story. Where the Thief is mostly focused on getting the Golden Balls, Scrat is always focused on getting the Nut. Similar to the “Thief” there is also a prophesy early in the story promising “doom and destruction”. In addition to the structural similarities you can also find a number of scene specific similarities, for example in the sequence where Scrat is pole vaulting.

One difference that made me feel that Ice Age 2's use of Scrat was more successful then the Thief is that Scrat's scenes, while quite spectacular, don't outweigh the main narrative. The audience cares about the main characters and the challenges and threats they face. In Ice Age 2 I quite enjoyed the back and forth between the main story and the “comic relief”. A good balance. There also is a better connection between what Scrat is doing and how that relates to the main story. Scrat's efforts of taking the Nut always reinforce the main threat of the ice walls breaking and flooding the little world that the main characters live in.
I think Ice Age 2 showed that a concept that didn't fulfill it's potential on the “Thief” (at least the “Thief” was never finished properly) could actually work. In my mind it validates Dick's approach in regards to the Thief scenes to some extend but also highlights some of the problems of our film.

1 comment:

Ethan said...

When I was working at PDI Richard Williams came for a visit. He had just come from Blue Sky earlier that week. He told the director (Chris Wedge) that he like the Scrat character in Ice Age (it had just come out a few months ago). Chris told him he should like the character because he got the idea from watching the Thief character in the Thief and the Cobbler.