‘The Croods: A New Age’: Film Review

Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds return as central members of the Paleolithic herd struggling to survive, this time at odds with a family higher up the evolutionary ladder. It’s been seven years since DreamWorks spliced the DNA of the Ice Age franchise with The Flintstones and gave us The Croods, a gentle adventure whose vibrant 3D visuals and antics helped disguise the lack of clever humor in its storytelling. You may be forgiven for wondering who asked for a movie sequel that didn’t fossilize much of an impression on the animated landscape. But that forgettable entry from 2013 made nearly $ 600 million worldwide, which seems like reason enough for the studio to return to the Stone Age with a new creative team. Sadly, that’s where the inspiration ends in this frantically oversized follow-up. The first film was rescued from a failed Aardman collaboration and was written and directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, who retain story credit here. It recounted the struggle for survival of a family of six cave dwellers, battling hunger, fantastic hybrid predators, and the geological chaos of complicated tectonic plates that forced them to emerge in search of tomorrow. Beyond the physical dangers of their primitive world, the conflict hinged on the overprotective anxiety of the prehistoric patriarch Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage), as the natural curiosity of his feisty eldest daughter Eep (Emma Stone) was fueled by the arrival of a dreaming companion. teenage boy (Ryan Reynolds). The sole survivor of a family wiped out in a cataclysmic event, he was blessed with an upright posture, better bone structure and a higher forehead, as well as an understanding of revolutionary concepts like fire, footwear, and accessories (a lazy mascot serves as his belt) . . The clash between Grugs ‘physical strength and Guys’ visionary brains created friction until they reached an inevitable understanding, realizing that both strength and ideas could help protect the family. The new installment is directed in minimal style by Joel Crawford, a longtime story artist in the trenches of DreamWorks Animation, and written with a similar lack of imagination by brothers Kevin and Dan Hageman, Paul Fisher and Bob. Logan. That committee has taken characters with limited charm and given them even less distinction, connecting an almost identical continuation of their action-packed story so manic and grueling that it’s often played like a video game. An early buzz of purposeful excitement with the clan forming a circle of death to ward off attack from an army of kangadillos (as the name suggests, a kangaroo-armadillo cross) is a daunting sign of things to come, over and over again with decreasing returns. Few to no jokes here come close to the ones that worked the first time, like the Croods’ little army (Kailey Crawford), which sparked the savage battle cry: “Free the baby!” The main attempt to make the sequel less youthful is the introduction of slightly more adult humor through Phil and Hope Betterman (Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann), whose more advanced stage is underlined in their name. When Grug discovers his walled farmhouse, outfitted with Flintstones-style inventions like a shower and flush toilet, watered with mountain spring water and filled with exotic crops ripe for gathering, the Croods believe they have found tomorrow. But Betterman’s snob only cares about troglodyte freeloid is keeping Guy as a companion to his teenage daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). An elegant top knot and some vanilla-scented body wash later, Guy easily turns into the comforts of a more civilized life. null READ MORE The Croods: A New Age Trailer: Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, and Nicolas Cage Return for the Long-awaited Sequel That setup creates dull romantic confusion for Eep, who nonetheless enjoys the newly discovered pleasures of female friendship with Dawn. Betterman’s offspring, in turn, flourish as they separate from their suffocating parents and experience life’s forbidden emotions beyond the walls, accompanying Eep astride Chunky, the giant macaw and jungle cat hybrid of The Croods. There are slightly amusing interludes like Grug’s sibling bonding with the manipulative Phil in the last steam room of the man cave; Hope’s passive-aggressive attempt to send Grugs’ wife, Ugga (Catherine Keener) and their brood back to where they came from with a traveling gift basket; or the discovery of a panoramic window in Bettermans’ massive tree house, which turns preteen Thunk Crood (Clark Duke) into an instant couch potato. But none of this constitutes anything that can really be called plot drive. In that sense, the writers despair with an overly complicated but stupid subplot that encourages Crawford to step on the gas. This refers to Betterman’s need to deliver a steady supply of bananas to appease the volatile population of multiple subspecies of “punch monkeys,” angry beasts that communicate with a sock on the jaw. Young children and drug addicts can laugh at that level of Looney Tunes violence; I barely managed a smile. The addition of other fantastic creatures like land sharks and wolf spiders only adds to the tedious overhead of it all, though maybe that works for those under 10 with a short attention span. When the war between humans and apes breaks out, grumpy old Croods Gran (Cloris Leachman) launches into battle, rekindling the spirit of an ancient tribe of female warriors she once belonged to, called The Thunder Sisters. They get their own tune, courtesy of HAIM, and their own sequence of titles from the old-school Saturday morning cartoon series. Elsewhere, too, the creative team mixes the animation approach with hand-drawn imitation cave painting scenes. Editor James Ryan and composer Mark Mothersbaugh work overtime to keep the thin story in a final message nearly identical to the first film: that strength and intellect are mutually beneficial and that a unified package is the way to go. . But despite the talented cast of professional voices (Cage and Stone are once again MVPs) and the attention to detail in the computer-generated environments, the film is more aggressive than engaging, and it’s rarely really funny. Unless you think that putting a soundtrack to Partridge Family and Spandau Ballet pop hits in a prehistoric romance is fun, in which case, welcome. In an era where there is no shortage of nifty animated features that engage kids while tickling adults, the laughs here are as fresh as the brief 1960s sci-fi comedy It’s About Time. That CBS series starring the great Imogene Coca lasted just 18 episodes before audiences got tired of the repetitive Stone Age situations and the creators attempted a makeover by transporting cave people to contemporary Los Angeles. Never heard it? The same extinction likely awaits Croods films 50 years from now. Production Company: DreamWorks Animation Distributor: Universal Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, Kelly Marie Tran, Kailey Crawford Director: Joel Crawford Writers: Kevin Hageman, Dan Hageman, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan; Story of Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders 40th 4th Producer: Mark Swift 40th 4th Production Designer: Nate Wragg 40th 4th Music: Mark Mothersbaugh 40th 4th Editor: James Ryan 40th 4th Visual Effects Supervisor: Betsy Nofsinger 40th 4th Cast: Christi Soper Hilt 40th 4th PG rating, 95 minutes

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