The fourth instalment arrives for a series that, whilst it may not be as celebrated of ‘Shrek’ or ‘Toy Story’, is no less popular with audiences- around $2billion worldwide gross over three films means Manny and the gang are back for ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’.
Woolly Mammoth Manny (voiced by Ray Romano) is finding life as a family man (er, mammoth) hard, clashing with his teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). His lot is made no easier by his calamitous friends Sid The Sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the Sabretooth Tiger (Denis Leary). All that changes however when a continental land divide separates Manny from his family, and he, Sid and Diego are left adrift on an iceberg trying to get home.
To make things worse, they fall foul of a sinister pirate ape named Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) who is hell bent on revenge after an initial encounter with our heroes. Yes, it’s all terribly familiar, but for a film like this it isn’t the setback you might think. Pixar’s classics have been pitched as almost family dramas- films that have the laughs, certainly, but the scale and drama of any Oscar bait.
‘Ice Age’ has always been about the gags, and in that respect nothing has changed; the script is still witty, with enough winks to the adults to keep them from nodding off, and the physical humour is remains the series’ strong suit.
Like classic Warner Bros cartoons our heroes are thrown across the screen, which would draw a chuckle from even the biggest cynic, especially in any scene featuring Scrat- still the funniest character in the film and still a source of most of the biggest laughs.
The 3D is sporadically fun, but the pre-movie ‘Simpsons’ short (featuring the youngest Simpson, Maggie) uses the format far better. As for the voices, all three principles seem to give enthusiastic performances, particularly Leguizamo.
Palmer voices the rebellious teenager (having done so in person a couple of weeks ago in the awful ‘Joyful Noise’), and just the same as popstars Nicki Minaj and Drake (who voice Peaches’ friends), it’s too generic to stand out. Jennifer Lopez plays a female Sabretooth Tiger with very little enthusiasm, however the real treat comes from Dinklage, who plays Gutt with boundless energy; and Wanda Sykes as the brilliantly batty Grandma.
Overall, it’s hard to label ‘Ice Age: Continential Drift’ as anything other than a crowd pleaser. It’s more of what was popular with audiences, and has enough laughs, action and new characters to overlook the repetitions.