Twentieth Century Fox has turned the period of Earth history known as the Ice Age into an animated movie for children called Ice Age. This is a world of glaciers, volcanoes, woolly mammoths, giant sloths, saber-toothed tigers, saber-toothed squirrels and primitive Neanderthals. Early in the movie one animal asks, “How do we know this is an ‘ice age’?” The answer comes, “Because of all the ice!”
Starring the voice talents of:
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Jane Krakowski, Jack Black
Directed by: Chris Wedge
Screenplay by: Michael Wilson
Distributor: 20th Century Fox (USA)
Genre(s): animation, animal, children’s, comedy
Release date: 15 March 2002
MPAA Rating: PG Mild Peril
Running Time: 81 minutes
See also Dan Lietha’s After Eden cartoon, “Primitive humans?”
The computer animation is top-notch and the characters are delightful and entertaining for the most part. Unlike other recent computer-animated films, such as Monsters Inc. or Shrek, this film is targeted more for the child audience and less for adults. The plot is pretty simple. A group of misfit animal “friends” band together to achieve a common goal. The goal in this case is to return a Neanderthal baby to his family. That’s not much of a story, but the characters and Ice Age context serve as a framework to fill the film with cute jokes and wild slapstick moments. Sound fun and innocent? It’s fun to watch, but not totally innocent. In fact, there are aspects of this movie that are of concern.
The rating is PG for “mild peril.” Parents should be cautioned about these scenes. There are a few fights and chases that take place between the humans, saber-toothed tigers and other animals in the movie. These scenes are not very graphic but could be upsetting, especially to younger children. One chilling aspect of these scenes is the fact that the saber-toothed tigers want to get revenge on the humans for killing other tigers for clothing. To realize this revenge, the lead tiger says he wants to capture the human baby alive because “if I’m going to get my revenge, I want it to be fresh’. As a result of the fights and chases, there are a few animal and human deaths; and while not shown, they are strongly implied.
From a Biblical history perspective there are a few more points of concern.
Of course, any time a film is made from outside of a Biblical worldview, there are going to be problems, and this is the case here. This movie is a 20,000-years-in-the-past glimpse at Earth, animal and human evolution. Yes, it is a “cartoon treatment” of evolutionary history, but isn’t that the point-to expose children to an evolutionary history and continue to build that as reality in their minds? Even a cartoon comedy film about the Ice Age can be an “educational” tool.
Ice Age includes a few light mentions of evolution and one survival-of-the-fittest comment as well. One scene shows a four-stage, frozen-in-ice display of the evolutionary progression from a small simple worm to a larger, more advanced creature with legs-all tongue-in-cheek of course and not meant as a serious instruction in evolution. But still it is present and should be discussed with your children should they see the movie. Actually the scene with the four evolutionary stages frozen in ice simultaneously would be a nice argument against evolution, if you think about it!
The one thing that really caught my attention was the difference between the animal characters and the “early” humans in this children’s film. Animated features often give the power of speech to animals to allow them to tell a story. We have seen this many times. The big difference in Ice Age is that while the animals have quite a nicely developed vocabulary, the humans (shown with the large protruding foreheads and not much above) have no speech capabilities whatsoever. You just hear them grunt and make non-verbal sounds. Later in the film, the humans” lack of speech is even pointed out by one of the animals. Diego, the saber-tooth tiger says, “You know humans can’t talk.” How confusing is that-animals that act more human than the Neanderthals that are supposed to be (at least pre-) human? I can see a parent explaining this to their child, “No, Billy, animals don’t really talk, but the part about the early humans not being able to talk, that’s true!”
This is quite different from the true Biblical account of a perfectly created Adam & Eve having speech capabilities from the very beginning. Humans did not evolve out of an animal ancestry. We were made perfect, in God’s image in the beginning, and sin has changed this world to what we see now. Children need to be exposed to the reality of true Biblical history and not to the false evolutionary history that permeates our world.
As an alternative to this Ice Age movie, I would challenge parents to seek out Biblical materials on the real Ice Age and give your children answers so that they’ll be ready when they hear their friends talk about Ice Age.
Answers to many Ice Age questions and a list of further resources can be found in Q&A: Ice Age.
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