Thursday, July 12, 2012
Review of ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (2012)
- Rated PG for mild rude humor and action, peril.
- Featuring the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Wanda Sykes, Jennifer Lopez, Peter Dinklidge, Seann William Scott, Aziz Ansari, Nick Frost, Keke Palmer, Josh Peck, Patrick Stewart, Alan Tudyk
- Written by Michael Berg & Jason Fuchs
- Directed by Steve Martino & Michael Thurmeier
- Running time: 1hr 27min.
I haven't really been the biggest fan of the ICE AGE franchise. I hated the first one with it's terrible animation and cardboard characters. The second one was an improvement, but still wasn't that great. But I found the third (which had the dinosaurs) to be surprisingly enjoyable. I thought that was a good way to go out. But no! They had to make another one! And from the trailers, it looked like we were in for an uninspired ride.
Everyone is back. Manny and Elle have a teenage daughter named Peaches who just wants to be excepted by her social circle, and especially by the cute popular mammoth. Sid the sloth is visited by his family and they leave him his senile old grandmother. Diego is there to, but he doesn't have much to do until later. This time, the ice cracks once again and Manny is separated from his family. He, Manny and Diego spend the rest of the film trying to find them. Pretty standard synopsis, huh?
But this time, there is an inclusion of a villain, something that was missing from the first three. Manny and the gang are attacked by a bunch of pirates led by an evil monkey named Captain Gutt. Part of his crew include a silly Walrus and an attractive female Sabertooth, who catches Diego's eye. This subplot adds a much needed sense of fun and adventure to the franchise.
I really wasn't expecting much, and let's be honest, these movies will never be mistaken as a Pixar-type movie, but you know what? I had a surprisingly good time. The pacing of the film is at a breakneck speed. There are a good amount of exciting action sequences thanks to the addition of the pirates. Manny and his friends are fine, but the cast of baddies are a breath of fresh air. Peter Dinklidge provides Captain Gutt with slithery villainy. He's a lot of fun! His character design is also very cool. The subplot involving Diego and his girl version was also involving.
But at the core of the movie is a touching father/daughter story. Maybe it's because I have an 8 year old girl whom I'm very close with, but their relationship touched me. Everyone can identify with wanting to fit in and not wanting to listen to their parents. I think it's very relatable to many kids and adults and was handled very well, I thought.
The humor wasn't as forced as the disappointing MADAGASCAR 3. It's silly and somewhat juvenile, but it didn't have that snarky, smart-ass vibe that the aforementioned one did. There was something refreshingly innocent about the slapstick jokes and irreverent humor. I didn't laugh out loud often, but I smiled quite a bit. My favorite scene was the encounter with the sirens, It was a clever, scary, but also hilarious sequence. The movie is peppered with mild gems like that one. It's not fantastic, but just good enough to be pleasant for it's almost 90 minute run time.
There's really not a whole lot to say here. It's a typical ICE AGE movie, but done well. I would say it's the best one. Also, the 3-D was more impressive than any other animated film I've seen this year. If you're into that sort of thing, it's worth the upgrade.
Out of all the summer kid's movies, I would say this is the most family friendly. It doesn't have heavy thematic themes like BRAVE, it's not aimed strictly at adults (PIRATES) and it's not unpleasant (MADAGASCAR 3). I think most kids would enjoy this over Pixar's latest. Not that I agree with that, but I would agree that this is a fine summer flick to bring the entire family during the dog days of summer.
Oh yes, I almost forgot. It wouldn't be an ICE MOVIE without Scrat, that little critter who is still on the endless quest to find the perfect acorn. His vignettes tie the film together, and are always humorous. He's a great character, and his last scene is pretty darn inventive.
*** (out of ****)
Note: The Simpson's short that comes before the film is worth the price of admission alone. Fans of the series won't want to miss it!