When digital animation Ice Age was released in 2002 it went head-to-head with some pretty heavy competition. The prehistoric story of “three mammals and a baby” was up against American studio animations Toy Story 1 & 2 (1995, 1999), Monsters Inc. (2001) and Shrek (2001). These features had not only blitzed at the box office but redefined contemporary studio animation, utilising state-of-the-art CGI (computer generated imagery), beautifully crafted scripts, well-drawn characters and a palpable sense of popular culture.Pitched at a younger audience, Fox’s entry into the animated feature stakes didn’t leave quite the indelible mark of its predecessors but it certainly held its own at the 'all important’ box office. Plus kids loved its animated stars Manny the Mammoth, Diego the Sabre-Tooth Tiger and Sid the lispy sloth. Accordingly, a sequel was on the cards. It arrives now in the form of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. Ice Age 2: The Meltdown picks up where the first left off. Manny the woolly mammoth (voiced by Ray Ramano) is still lumbered with sidekicks Diego (Denis Leary), and Sid (John Leguizamo). But their (relatively) easy-going existence is under threat; the frozen earth beneath them is starting to melt and they must outrun the inevitable major flood to survive. Ark-style the animals pair off, but Manny fears he is the last of his kind. That is until he meets female mammoth Ellie (Queen Latifah). There’s only one problem with the potential of this 'biological’ and romantic union: this mammoth thinks she’s a possum. Ice Age 2 is very cute n’ cuddly but it doesn’t quite have the cutting edge humour or sophisticated computer imagery of the Shrek movies, nor the sheer visual artistry of Japanese anime. Ice Age at least had some very surprising 'gay dad’ jokes for anyone paying attention and aside form a couple of references to 'the mating game’, there’s nothing so leftfield in IA2. But it does possess friendly, recognisable characters, a sweet story, and some excellent action scenes where the gargantuan Manny saves the day. (No wonder kids love him; he’s a dead spit for Sesame Street’s Mr. Snufflepagus).Ice Age 2 could have used a few more jokes and a more imaginative script - it kind of lumbers along slowly like Manny as he walks along the melting earth. (Perhaps it should be retitled to “March of the Mammoths”, as it does kind of share a thing in common or two with smash hit doco March of the Penguins, with its icy climes and message of survival and extinction, under harsh conditions). But just when the plot looks like stalling out of the blue comes the nervy little squirrel Scrat to make us laugh, wrestling with his giant acorn like he’s in a WWE smack down.This is the great thing about animation. You can make anything happen - silly, well-choreographed out-of-control slapstick included- pretty much guaranteeing the 'littlies’ will love it.