Directors: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier
Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Peter Dinklage, Nick Frost, Aziz Ansari, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Sean William Scott and Nicki Minaj
What everybody knows about Ice Age, is Scrat the squirrel and his attempts to find and keep that perfect, yet elusive acorn. Every scene with him is essentially a silent, short film, each of which contains more wit and invention than the rest of the more conventional, dialogue and story driven scenes. While a film filled entirely of Scrat would cause the character and routine to lose its charm and enjoyment, for me the future of the Ice Age series should be short Scrat films, which would play in front of more higher quality animation fare. However this would of course rob those studio heads of the millions of dollars they can easily pump out of these films, they even got my cash this time around. What is most telling about the Ice Age films is that while writing this review I cannot remember the names of the characters without consulting trusty IMDB. That says it all about the Ice Age films, forgettable. I bet that in a weeks, even days time, my memories of this film will be incredibly slim. These Ice Age films (At least for me) don’t instigate any genuine or long living emotion and while comparing every non-Pixar animated film to Pixar is incredibly unfair, it is inevitable and doesn’t do these Ice Age films any favours. While the writers (Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs) demonstrate some self awareness through the line, “Last time we fought dinosaurs, it didn’t make any sense, but it sure was exciting” their apparent wit is never truly evidenced in the rest of the film.
While the Ice Age films are forgettable on a character, story and emotional level, what they do contain is brilliant visuals. The standard of animation is so high nowadays and Ice Age: Continental Drift is a further example of that. In one establishing shot my inner self actually proclaimed, “My god, look at the water” it looked so real. However the fact that I noticed how great the animation was and I was thinking how much can be achieved through animation nowadays during the film, perhaps is reflective of how uninvolving the film was. What doesn’t help this film, is just how predictable its story is. Now a lot of films have predictable story-lines but with this film you can literally guess from the first ten minutes exactly where everything is going, there are no moments of surprise or tension in this film, it doesn’t have you guessing at any point. Now while I don’t expect classic M. Night Shyamalan (Can he just change his name to M. Night Shamalamadingdong?) out of a children’s film, the predictability of it just leads to a dull film, as all you are witnessing is a film going through the motions. The predictability of the story isn’t helped by the poor characters or lack of any emotional involvement or investment. Now as somebody who hardly remembers the first Ice Age and skipped 2 and 3, this complaint about no emotional investment and poor characters, may not be shared by many who have followed this franchise and I am sure it doesn’t matter to the children who this film is aimed at.
This film starts with promise as the opening scene where Scrat goes to the earth’s core and causes the split of the continents being witty and inventive on both a visual and comedic level. The film demonstrates self-awareness through the line previously mentioned and despite setting up predictable stories, seems to be going about them in an entertaining manner. However as the film plodded along, its 90 minute running time started to feel a lot longer. The reason being, I just didn’t care about the story or the characters and the gorgeous animation, sparse scenes of Scrat and the once again average 3D, can only take a film so far. While children in the cinema appeared to be enjoying it, this isn’t a film they will remember, this isn’t a film they will be showing to their kids and as obvious as this sounds, as much as this has been said, these Ice Age films are like poorly done Mcdonalds meals. You know what you’re getting is manufactured, unhealthy, money grabbing, in one out the other but you expect to at least enjoy it while you’re processing it, put the pleasure into guilty pleasure.
Scrat and great animation ensure that Ice Age: Continental Drift is not a terrible film, but a lazy plot, poor characters and a general lack of involvement, excitement or emotion, ensure that it is an incredibly mediocre, forgettable offering in this franchise.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister, Michael Dalton
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