It’s no secret that I’m a Star Trek fan from way back. I was lucky enough to travel to Las Vegas and go through Star Trek: The Experience which featured numerous costumes and props from all the series and movies along with an interactive ride that put you on the bridge of the starship Enterprise. I took three trips to Las Vegas and went to Star Trek: The Experience every time. While I enjoyed each visit, by the third time, I knew when things were going to happen and could anticipate the actors reactions since each person in the cast never deviated from the script. That predictability took a little of the luster off of something that initially brought me an enormous amount of joy. The same can be said for this week’s movie, “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”
Manny, Sid and Diego (voiced by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary) become separated from the group of animals they live with when the supercontinent of Pangaea breaks apart due to the relentless pursuit of an acorn by Scrat. Drifting across the ocean on a piece of glacier, the trio and Sid’s senile granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes) encounter an iceberg pirate ship led by Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage), a gorilla, his first mate Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez), a sabre toothed cat, and the rest of his crew. Captain Gutt’s plan is to force the group to become a part of the crew but they escape and split the iceberg in two, sailing away on their half and leaving the pirate swearing his revenge. Meanwhile, Manny’s mate Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) and their teenaged daughter Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer) are trying to get away from the relentless wall of rock that’s sliding over their territory by reaching a land bridge where Manny said he would meet them. Peaches has a crush on another mammoth named Ethan (voiced by Drake) while a molehog named Louis (voiced by Josh Gad) has feelings for Peaches.
The fourth installment of the very successful “Ice Age” films pretty much follows the formula of the previous three: Put the main characters on a quest. Insert regular intervals of peril either from the villain or nature and end with a heartwarming reunion. By now, the writers can probably crank out a script in their sleep and it would appear they have done so here. While the movie isn’t boring, it isn’t terribly entertaining either.
The characters in “Ice Age: Continental Drift” are put through their trials with the consistency of a machine. We know they’ll survive whatever danger they are in so there’s not a great deal of tension built up by these scenes. The audience will mostly wonder how the hapless Sid will end up ruining their escape and require saving. After the first two or three bits of peril, the threats that follow start feeling rather repetitious. The separate storyline involving Ellie and Peaches isn’t much better with Peaches dealing with mild peer pressure from Ethan and his friends and some guilt over her last angry exchange with Manny before they became separated. Nothing about either storyline will do much to inspire the adults in the audience. Children will likely be more entranced by the colors and antics of the animal characters than they will be by the message of the film.
The film’s humor is mostly of the slapstick/physical variety. The characters go careening down ice tunnels, are tossed by massive waves and fall down embankments. There are some funny bits here and there but most of it produces a mild chuckle at most. The intercut bits involving Scrat are more consistently amusing but the sabre toothed squirrel-rat is used sparingly.
My biggest problem with the movie is it doesn’t really have much of a story. There are several adventures strung together that eventually lead to a reunion but there isn’t much that connects the peril other than the characters experiencing it. The adult audience isn’t given anything to hang their interest on while their children will be perfectly happy with one pratfall after another. Perhaps it’s time to retire the “Ice Age” franchise until a decent story can be attached to the action. I realize that won’t happen until the movies stop making tons of money at the box office. This installment did $46-million in its opening weekend domestically and so far has amassed a total of $385-million worldwide. I think it’s very likely we’ll be getting a fifth “Ice Age” film in a few years.
“Ice Age: Continental Drift” is rated PG for mild rude humor and action/peril. There are a few jokes about body odor and Sid regurgitates prunes he’s chewed up for his granny. There is a mildly graphic description of what Captain Gutt threatens to do to Sid when they are first captured. There are fights that take place at various points in the movie that might upset young children.
While children will likely be thrilled with the crazy antics of Manny, Sid, Diego and the rest of the crew, their parents will have to make do with the few really funny bits that are too few and far between. Mom and/or Dad will probably enjoy the cartoon featuring Maggie Simpson that precedes the movie more than the film itself.
“Ice Age: Continental Drift” gets three guitars out of five.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is the only movie opening in wide release this week and there aren’t any new art house flicks for you to vote on so please vote on your favorite Batman movie villain.
Jack Nicholson as Joker
Heath Ledger as Joker
Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face
Aaron Eckhart as Two Face
Jim Carrey as the Riddler
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze
Danny DeVito as Penguin
Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow
Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy
Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman
Release dates are subject to change and not all movies may be shown in Knoxville, TN.