Ice Age: Dawn of The Dinosaurs: An Evening with Director Carlos Saldanha

Posted by on Nov 23, 2009 in Industry Events | No Comments

According to Wikipedia, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is “the second highest grossing animated film of all time with $874.5 million worldwide.”

Which also means, Ice Age 3 has bested every Pixar production at the box office.

Quite an achievement for director Carlos Saldanha, a 1993 School of Visual Arts graduate from Brazil, who began a career in computer programming before listening to the inner voice that would lead him to direct four high profile feature films(Robots, and all the Ice Age movies) for Blue Sky Studios.

In person Carlos is inspiring and talkative.  He spoke openly about his process, offering valuable insights to the many students in attendance, emphasizing focus and work ethic, two qualities he credits for his own successes.

I asked Carlos “What was the most important moment of your career?”

He immediately identified his first and only independent short, a thesis project for The School of Visual Arts, where he didn’t have to negotiate the many collabrative forces that typically accompany a big budget feature.  The short is his vision, pure and unadulterated.

Perhaps Carlos, at heart, is an independent filmmaker.

How can you not love this guy?

Unfortunately, I thought Ice Age 3 a terrible movie.

The action scenes were good, particularly the pterodactyl sequence, I enjoyed some of the character designs, Rudy’s in particular, and I thought the choices in color palette and camera shots excellent overall.

Yet the dialogue was only slightly more interesting than cats scratching on chalkboard, while the characters had about as much charisma as a dead mackerel.  I never laughed once.

For instance, Buck, a weasel/ferret deranged army vet character, jumps into frame and says:

“I’m about to go Buck Wild!”

No Buck, no.  Don’t say that.  Don’t.  Say.  That.

Yet the characters go on to perform many more mercilessly generic lines, gags, and expressions.  No talking beast was spared.  Even the movie itself never really had anything important to say.

Yet this film still made a tyrannosaurus sized footprint in the industry, such is the power of children’s entertainment, where quality is irrelevant to box office gross.

After all, Shrek 2 is the highest grossing animated film of all time.

Wish I didn’t know that.

But I do wish to see Saldanha attempt another personal project some day.  Focus and hard work may not guarantee a good film, but success cannot be had without them.

-John Lee