ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT – The Review
The filmmakers behind the Ice Age franchise have proven to be much better at convincing parents to bring their kids to see their movies than they are at actually making these movies any good. The newest, ICE AGE CONTINENTAL DRIFT, the fourth go-round for the trio of computer-animated prehistoric heroes, opens with a sensational few minutes in which Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel literally shapes the continents by scrambling over the Earth’s center core. Unfortunately, it was a sensational few minutes I had seen before, several times in fact, as this sequence, integrated into this feature, has been showing as a short at the beginning of some of 20th Century Fox’s family films for at least a year now. After that though, the movie settles into a mode of a nice, sweet, safe, and – sorry, I have to say it – slightly dull family fun. It comes alive when it gets to Scrat again about halfway through, this time in a funny underwater adventure, but that was yet another recycled short!
The footage that is new in ICE AGE CONTINENTAL DRIFT concerns the Wooly Mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), who is separated from his family after an earthquake leaves him stranded on a tiny iceberg with Diego the tiger (Dennis Leary), Sid the sloth (John Lequizamo), and Sid’s crotchety grandmother (Wanda Sykes), who constantly talks to her invisible pet ‘Precious’. The four yearn to reunite with their friends and family but the iceberg keeps drifting further from the mainland. Hope seems to have arrived when they encounter a large iceberg/ship but it’s manned by a scurvy crew of pirates led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage), a mean-spirited ape.
ICE AGE CONTINENTAL DRIFT is amusing and harmless – a film that will amaze the under-10 crowd but will most likely fail to keep their parents distracted. Sure, the characters are cute, the voices are silly, and everyone learns the lessons they need to learn about friendship and family etc. But I think kids are smarter than this movie and way too much of the comedy here is uninspired. With most of the characters from the first three films plus a few new ones, there’s barely time to adequately explore anyone’s conflicts. The last half of the movie is a constant state of characters getting rescued – there are rescues within the rescues – interrupted by the occasional slapstick bit or one-liner. On the plus side, the movie looks fantastic, the 3D has great depth, and Dinklage’s theatrical baboon is such a deranged scene-stealer that I wouldn’t mind seeing this character in a film of his own. ICE AGE CONTINENTAL DRIFT will satisfy its young fan base and is bound to make a ton of money, but at this point, the series is no longer an artistic pursuit; it’s a business deal. If you’ve already taken the tots to BRAVE and MADAGASCAR 3, you may be stuck. Just keep your expectations low.
2 1/2 of 5 Stars