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Ice Age 4: Continental Drift walks on thin ice

As Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift, critics unfortunately seem to feel the plot of the film, too, has drifted. Here's what they had to say.

hollywood Updated: Jul 27, 2012 18:41 IST

Film: Ice Age 4: Continental Drift
Cast: Voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Drake and Nicki Minaj
Director: Mike Thurmeier, Steve Martino
Plot Synopsis: Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.

Kyle Smith, New York Post
Rating: 2/4

"Ice Age: Continental Drift” does accurately convey a sense of prehistoric times. Carbon-dating techniques peg its inspiration to approximately 2006, when movies about pirates and Tyler Perry still seemed relatively new.

The quality of the series is fairly con-sistent, and the last episode brought in $900 million worldwide. But the international nature of the property, for that is what it is, means a bias toward dull, simple slapstick (or, in the case of the squirrel Scrat, the ever-hopeful pursuer of acorns, scratstick). About the fourth time someone makes a false move and ends up sliding down an enormous icy slope as though on a roller coaster, I checked my watch and the movie was still only 20 minutes old. Fortunately, that meant only 60 minutes to go, not including credits. (Don’t be late, though: The best part of “Ice Age 4” happens before it begins, with a funny five-minute short featuring the Simpsons).

Ice Age 4Though the movie also contains bright references to "The Odyssey" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," its habit of stopping the action for sight gags means that to an adult, or a native English speaker, it feels longer than it is. Popping from one silly set piece to another is all that really concerns the screenwriters. A chipmunk army appears for no reason except to amp up the cuteness, and Sid turns out to speak fluent chipmunk because this yields a silly scene of him dancing madly and speaking gibberish.

At best, the film serves up mild chuckles, with occasional cute jokes (Manny worries that his daughter is growing up too fast — “the next thing you know, she’s piercing her trunk”) and wordplay (the pirate captain, Gutt, is so named because he likes to slice open his enemies so that “your innards become your outards”).
Verdict: Scrat’s quest for an acorn-laden paradise (called “Scrat-lantis,” which to me sounds more like something you’d put on jock itch) provides a funny climactic moment.

Peter Bradshaw,

With the fourth film, the Ice Age family animation franchise is looking almost extinct. The only interesting thing is the wacky "Scrat" character, a hungry, pop-eyed, acorn-obsessed rat, who has another great cameo. The rest of the time, we're stuck with the tired old characters: Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano) and his pals; Manny is now a family guy with a rebellious teen daughter. It really does feel exhausted. However, there is a very nice short film going out with this – The Simpsons: the Longest Daycare, featuring the further adventures of Maggie Simpson at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.
Verdict: The acorn-obsessed rat is the only thing worth watching in the fourth of the animation series

Chris Tookey,

Here is the mixture as before, except Scrat the prehistoric squirrel is revealed as the guilty party responsible for continental drift. That’s the nearest thing they’ve got to a clever idea, by the way.

Discerning adults will know what to expect. Number four in the series is formulaic and feels factory-made rather than a labour of love.

All the same, it’s happy, wholesome and colourful — all welcome in a kids’ film.

These are not the funniest or most interesting characters, but there’s enough humour and danger to make this the second-best of the series, after the initial Ice Age.

It will keep most children aged from five to 11 thoroughly entertained.

Verdict: The whole family will warm to this Ice Age

Alex Zane,

Rating: 4/5

With animated movies doing huge business – Madagascar 3 is mopping up at the US box office and due here in October – it’s no surprise the hugely popular Ice Age franchise has a fourth instalment.

What is a surprise is just how good it is. Far surpassing No3’s dinosaurs, I’d go so far as to say this is the best Ice Age yet.

It starts with possibly the funniest first five minutes of any film this year, featuring this series’ greatest creation — the squirrel Scrat. Over the course of the previous movies the slapstick antics of this rodent, and his unwavering mission to possess an acorn, have delivered the biggest laughs.

Here he, or rather directors Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, have excelled themselves. They’ve thrown the laws of physics out of the window and the brilliant opening Scrat sketch that sees him journey to the centre of the Earth harks back to the insane action of those wonderful Looney Toons.

Of all the cartoon franchises out there, Ice Age remains one of the best. Sure, they’re still missing the penguins from Madagascar — the funniest cartoon characters working today — but this is great fun.

Verdict: Kids will love it and the anarchic humour will entertain adults too. Hugely enjoyable.

Ice aGe

Robbie Collin,

Rating: 2/5

the story revolves around Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (Leguizamo) and Diego the smilodon (Leary), who are separated from their multi-species herd thanks to the shifting of the Earth’s land masses.

This is a novel premise, and more in step with the fossil record than Ice Age 3’s “lost valley of the dinosaurs” plot, which Sid remembers as “very unlikely but lots of fun” in some droll opening banter. However, it leads to nothing more than a very ordinary pirate story, as the animals’ floating land fragment is hijacked by a gang of buccaneers who live on a large iceberg shaped a bit like a galleon. They include Shira, a sabre-toothed cat voiced by Jennifer Lopez and grandly described in the film’s production notes as “an empowered woman”.

Pause for a moment and savour the flagrant laziness of all this: rather than explore the unique storytelling possibilities that Ice Age’s unusual setting allows, the writers have just taken a shopworn scenario for children’s stories and made it colder. (There’s no point comparing this to the recent Aardman film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, which crammed more imagination and surprises than are contained in this film into a single backdrop.)

As with the earlier Ice Age films, it’s the least relevant parts of the film that prove most entertaining: the notionally throwaway interludes featuring Scrat, a jittery squirrel in perpetual pursuit of an acorn. The Scrat skits are vaultingly imaginative (the first offers a wry explanation for the geological rumblings that set the film in motion), they crackle with Chuck Jones-ish anarchy and are shot in a deadpan style quite unlike the wheeling 3D visuals elsewhere.

Aside from a few Pixar shorts, they are the most successful attempt in mainstream contemporary animation to reproduce the kinetic hysteria of the old Looney Tunes shorts, which makes it all the more puzzling that Blue Sky Studios continues to treat them as a sideshow. Would 90 minutes of Scrat centre stage be too much in the inevitable Ice Age 5? Perhaps, but better that than more of this.

Verdict: 'Ice Age: Continental Drift', the fourth film in the Ice Age series, is lacklustre holiday fare redeemed only by a demented squirrel.

First Published: Jul 27, 2012 14:11 IST