Sunday, 24 June 2012
FILM REVIEW: ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT
20th Century Fox Films
If the third time was the charm for the Ice Age franchise, than the fourth may well be poison. Not in box office terms, perhaps -- Ice Age 3 grossing $1 billion worldwide, and this follow-up sure to do at least half as well -- but the antics of the likeable if not loveable makeshift family at the heart of this series of films prove to be more exhaustive than exhilarating in Continental Drift.
It's the shifting of the Earth's tectonic plates -- inadvertently set in motion by Scrat, still in pursuit of that ever elusive acorn -- which sets in motion the adventures of Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the sabre tooth tiger (Denis Leary), and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo).
When the ground starts a quaking, it also starts a breaking and the three, along with Sid's grandmother (Wanda Sykes), are set adrift at sea. They survive giant crabs and waterspouts, but their attempts to return to their loved ones is jeopardised by Captain Gutt (an unrecognisable Peter Dinklage), a pirate primate with a join-us-or-die attitude, and his motley crew of scurvy dogs, including 2IC, Shira (an uninspired Jennifer Lopez).
Meanwhile, Manny's partner, Ellie (Queen Latifah), and now teenage daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), are stuck on land with the ever-moving mountains driving them and the rest of the herd (an assortment of peacefully co-existing beasts) towards the ocean.
Continental Shift keeps coming back to Ellie and Peaches but this story line, about a girl mammoth coming of age, is about as thrilling as watching the ice caps melt. The Ice Age films may be all about family -- chosen as much as biological -- but I've never found Latifah's Ellie a convincing element in the series; her introduction in Ice Age 2, along with her possum brothers, also marking the franchise's low point. Until now.
There may be a lot of action in this fourth film but there's very little to get excited about. That action, and the 3D, may engage the youngsters in the audience but the parents and other adults who are familiar with this world -- and who may have had their hopes raised by the impressive third outing, Dawn of the Dinosaurs -- are more likely to find the seafaring shenanigans of Continental Drift akin to an ice cold headache.
Note: There is a The Simpsons short film, The Longest Daycare, starring Maggie Simpson, screening ahead of Ice Age 4. If you are going along to see Continental Drift, then be sure and get there in time to catch it.