ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT
**1/2 (out of 5)
July 13, 2012
Ray Romano as MANNY
John Leguizamo as SID
Denis Leary as DIEGO
Nicki Minja as STEFFIE
Drake as ETHAN
Jennifer Lopez as SHIRA
Queen Latifah as ELLIE
Peter Dinklage as GUTT
Directed by: Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Ten years ago, Blue Sky Studios along with 20th Century Fox threw its hat into the ring of computer-generated feature films. The result was “Ice Age,” which was a uniquely animated and somewhat clever film in a very small pool, which until then had been dominated almost exclusively by Pixar and DreamWorks.
I liked the original “Ice Age,” and it was a refreshing break from the otherwise superior work done by Pixar and the hit-or-miss work done by DreamWorks. The sequel, “Ice Age: The Meltdown” four years later, not so much. Since then, there has been a 3D sequel “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which was better than the last film but still suffered from sequelitis. Now there’s a new sequel, “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” which is cute enough for family viewing but has the same problems.
Sigh… at least they didn’t just reboot the doggoned thing like Columbia Pictures did with “Spider-Man.”
“Ice Age: Continental Drift” finds the rag-tag herd of prehistoric creatures living peacefully, until geologic events break them apart. The set-up is eerily similar to last year’s “Happy Feet Two,” however instead glaciers, it’s the drifting continents that get in their way. This leaves Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) and Diego the saber-toothed cat (Denis Leary) trying to find a way back home. Along for the ride is Sid’s batty old grandmother (Wanda Sykes), and together they have to face a grisly ape pirate who is trying to take over the ocean.
Trust me, this isn’t a plot-driven film.
Like the previous sequels, this “Ice Age” movie forgoes quality character development and storytelling by throwing more wacky characters at you, each more obnoxious than the last. The general cast is already crowded, with Manny’s family and now Sid’s. It gets even more crowded with Manny’s daughter’s rebellious stage and her BFF who needs some screen time as well. There’s also the new pirate characters, which includes Shira (Jennifer Lopez) as a new love interest for Diego.
Like the recent “Madagascar” films, the “Ice Age” movies strive to give everyone a side-story, and with such a huge cast of characters, the overall story feels very haphazard. It’s not as out-of-place as the Diego storyline in “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” but it’s not very good, either.
As far as the sequels go, “Ice Age: Continental Drift” isn’t as fun as “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which did decent business domestically but became one of the biggest hits of the year when worldwide box office was factored in. It seems that this movie is going to have the same effect, and a lot of that is due to the fact that its a film that doesn’t exactly rely on any single language.
Oh, the dialogue is in English, and it will be properly translated for all other markets. However, it’s such a basic story that relies on crazy action set pieces that you really don’t need to hear any words to follow it. I suppose this is modern genius filmmaking in a world where international box office – and particularly emerging nations whose dialects can make script-heavy films difficult to homogenize – is where the real money is being made.
But in the end, “Ice Age: Continental Drift” is a fun cartoon that will fill the void left by “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and “Brave.” It’s a breezy 90 minutes, and there are some funny moments. If you like the series, you’ll enjoy this movie. If you hated the other films (particularly the sequels), you’ll hate it because it’s more of the same.