This delayed animated sequel evolves with excellent visuals, silly antics, and well-meaning characters.
The first “Croods” movie from 2013 was made on a budget of $135 million, and it was a great-looking film. It was like if it’s distributer Dreamworks Animation was inspired by “The Flinstones” with how the cave people take their baby steps in adapting to modern amenities. That was a fun movie.
Now, we have the long-awaited sequel “A New Age,” which was originally scrapped from the release schedule, until they finally came through. This one now cost $65 million to make, and it still looks fantastic. As a matter of fact, I’ve enjoyed it more than the first movie, because of its visual style, sense of humor, and depth to the characters.
The visual world I’m discussing here has animals spliced together. For example: wolves and spiders equal wolf spiders (get it?), and cows and mammoths equal moo-moths. The plants are like butterflies, the strawberries are in red, purple, and blue, and frogs work like glow sticks. Just imagine what would have happened if Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” was rated G or animated for that matter.
The cave family we previously met are The Croods: the over-protective father Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage), his open-minded wife Ugga (voiced by Catherine Keener), their three kids-the adventurous Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), the skittish Thunk (voiced by Clark Duke), and the wild child Sandy (voiced by Randy Thom)-and the feisty grandma (voiced by Cloris Leachman). They were guided through the great unknown by the intelligent Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) and his sloth buddy Belt (voiced by Chris Sanders).
Continuing their adventures, Guy and Eep are both madly in love, and decide to take the next step in their relationship. Grug is worried about losing his eldest daughter, and then the family comes across a hidden world. This one has showers, elevators, gardens, pools, and windows that work like HD TVs. This world is owned by the Bettermans-Phil (voiced by Peter Dinklage) and Hope (voiced by Leslie Mann)-both whom are trying to protect their only daughter Dawn (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) from the outside world. In fact, they knew Guy when he was a boy before his parents were killed, and decide to fix him up with their daughter.
This place changes the Croods in various ways, and there’s a reason why the Bettermans must stay in their city. I can tell you the movie uses inspiration from “King Kong,” “Godzilla,” “The Jungle Book,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Meet the Fockers,” “Booksmart,” “Moana,” and “The Little Mermaid.” We have monkeys (punch monkeys as they call them), monsters, rebellious teenagers, relationship problems, and a minor war between upper class and lower class citizens.
Some moments tend to go a bit far, but I’m still impressed with how director Joel Crawford gives the sequel a rainbow of colors and a sense of humor that tickles you internally and externally. I was mostly smiling at how the punch monkeys kidnap the men, and how the grandma sleeps with her eyes opened. I was also moved by its heartwarming moments. And the voice actors are all excellent with how they commit to their characters, and have fun at the same time.
Looking at “The Croods: A New Age,” and thinking back at Dreamworks Animation’s previous sequel “Trolls: World Tour,” it leave me to wonder if they want to improve on their sequels. I didn’t care for the first “Trolls” movie, but after seeing their positive world peace attitude, I liked the sequel better. I was entertained by the first “Croods” movie, and I’m even more so with this one. And to make it clear, I prefer these animated wolf spiders over real world spiders.