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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" is the eighth movie that Hollywood has released this year in 3D. By the end of 2009, audiences will have donned special glasses for 13 films. That compares with just one 3D film in 2003 and none at all for a whole decade before that. In a moment, we'll talk in depth about those 3D glasses.

First, Bob Mondello offers a three-dimensional review of "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs."

BOB MONDELLO: Dimension one: characters. Start with that single-minded saber-toothed squirrel, sniffing and snuffing in search of his beloved acorn, and he finds it and something else…

(Soundbite of song, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine")

MONDELLO: …a lady squirrel who is just as acorn-crazed as he is.

(Soundbite of song, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine")

Mr. Lou Rawls (Musician): (Singing) You'll never find as long as…

MONDELLO: Plus, woolly mammoths Manny and Ellie, who have a mini-mammoth on the way, and that means their little non-traditional family - Diego, a saber-toothed tiger who's learned not to eat his buddies, and Sid, a sloth whose mental ice tray is a couple of cubes short — are feeling left out.

Which brings us to dimension two: plot. Sid falls through some ice into a warmer, center-of-the-Earth-style world, finds three enormous eggs and decides to use them to start a family of his own.

(Soundbite of movie, "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs")

Mr. JOHN LEGUIZAMO (Actor): (As Sid) I'd like to present Eggbert(ph), Shelley(ph) and Yoko.

Mr. RAY ROMANO (Actor): (As Manny) Sid, whatever you're doing, it's a bad idea.

Mr. LEGUIZAMO: (As Sid) Shush. My kids will hear you.

Mr. ROMANO: (As Manny) They're not your kids, Sid. Take them back. You're not meant to be a parent.

Mr. LEGUIZAMO: (As Sid) Why not?

Mr. ROMANO: (As Manny) First sign is stealing someone else's eggs.

MONDELLO: And therein lies the conflict because after the eggs hatch, their biological parent shows up to claim them.

(Soundbite of movie, "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LEGUIZAMO: (As Sid) I thought those guys were extinct.

Mr. ROMANO: (As Manny) Well, then that is one angry fossil. Sid, give that to her. She's their mother.

Mr. LEGUIZAMO: (As Sid) How do I know she's their mother?

Mr. ROMANO: (As Manny) What do you want, a birth certificate? She's a dinosaur.

Mr. LEGUIZAMO: (As Sid) Look, these are my kids, and you're going to have to go through me to get them.

MONDELLO: Fine with her. Mom disappears back down the hole with the hatchlings, and Sid and adventures ensue, including some with a new guy, a swashbuckling weasel who, I'm afraid, I left out in dimension one: characters.

(Soundbite of movie, "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs")

Mr. SIMON PEGG (Actor): (As Buck) The name's Buck, short of Buckminster. What are you doing here?

Ms. QUEEN LATIFAH (Actress): (As Ellie) Our friend was taken by a dinosaur.

Mr. PEGG: (As Buck) Well, he's dead. Welcome to my world. Now, go home. Off you pop.

Mr. ROMANO: (As Manny) Maybe the deranged hermit has a point.

Ms. LATIFAH: (As Ellie) Manny, we came this far, we're going to find him.

MONDELLO: Which brings us to dimension three: How does the "Ice Age" message — basically, everybody work past differences and get along - translate to 3D? Well, it certainly plays out with more visual depth, though the animators don't insist on shoving things into your lap every three seconds.

Don't get me wrong: When pterodactyls fly over your shoulder, it's pretty persuasive, but the effect is becoming natural enough that I actually forgot for much of the picture that I was wearing glasses. Dimensions one and two, characters and plot, are primary here.

And if you can get over the not-really-minor quibble that elementary school teachers will now face classes absolutely convinced that the "Ice Age" marked the dawn of the dinosaurs rather than the death of the dinosaurs, it's a sweet little picture.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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