Anyone who has been keeping up with the “Ice Age” series will have noticed a distinct drop in quality over the last two films. What started off as an interesting series about an unlikely group of animals on an adventure has quickly turned into a series that feels like its last couple of entries should have gone straight to video, and that includes this latest sequel, “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”
Picking up where the last film left off, we find Manny the Mammoth (Voice of Ray Romano), Sid the Sloth (Voice of John Leguizamo), and Diego the Saber-Toothed Tiger (Voice of Denis Leary), along with their friends and family, living together happily. Manny’s teenage daughter, Peaches (Voice of Keke Palmer), has grown up since we last saw her and has started doing things on her own, a prospect that worries her father. Sid is also having family problems as his family dropped by all of a sudden just to leave his Granny (Voice of Wanda Sykes) with him.
However, these issues are interrupted by the sudden forming of the continents (apparently they have Scrat the Squirrel to thank for this). When Manny, Sid, Granny, and Diego are separated and forced away from the rest of their herd, they end up far from home. While trying to get back, they come across a group of pirates under the command of Captain Gutt (Voice of Peter Dinklage), who takes them prisoner. They eventually escape, destroying the pirates’ iceberg ship in the process, but Gutt doesn’t give up quite so easily, vowing to take revenge on them.
When this series first started back in 2002, I watched the original “Ice Age” and was left feeling very unimpressed with it, causing me to skip the rest of the series. However, with the release of this fourth film ten years later, I decided to give the franchise another chance, starting with the original film. Strangely enough, on a second viewing, I actually enjoyed it much more. The characters weren’t particularly interesting, but they did carry the film pretty well, and the story itself was rather sweet.
This actually gave me hope for the other entries. However, the second film, while not particularly bad, was not quite good enough to recommend due to a slightly bland story. The third film, “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” merely showed that the people behind the series were running out of things for these characters to do as it was rather tiresome to watch the same characters follow another story that wasn’t particularly engaging.
“Ice Age: Continental Drift” ends up having the same problems. We have the same characters, with the addition of an older Peaches and her friend Louis (Voice of Josh Gad), on yet another journey, a plot point that gets continually recycled throughout the series. By the time the pirates and the sideplot about Peaches’s choice of friends are randomly thrown in, you can really feel the strain the writers were going through to come up with something entertaining to keep the series alive.
One sideplot that the writers of the various films have come back to a lot is one of the characters finding a love interest. In the second film, Manny finds Ellie (Voice of Queen Latifah), a mammoth who at first thinks she’s a possum before coming to the realization that she’s not. In the third film, Scrat has a love/hate relationship with a female squirrel as he quarrels and falls in love with her. In this latest film, it’s Diego’s turn, as there just happens to be a female Saber-Toothed Tiger in Gutt’s crew. They, like Manny and Ellie, quarrel at first, but you can probably guess how their relationship develops.
As usual, a mini sideplot involving Scrat the Squirrel is thrown in as he continually hunts for acorns. Interestingly, he ends up having the most entertaining parts of the film, which leads me back to the feeling I had during the third film of how I wish it had been all about Scrat instead of the other characters. If there should end up being an “Ice Age 5,” hopefully the filmmakers will end up taking that bit of advice under serious consideration.
This is simply the case of a series that has fully run its course without anywhere left to go. There were inklings of it in the second film, but the third film made this perfectly clear. The series started off as fun and entertaining, but they’re not doing it any favors by continuing to drag it out, so hopefully this will be the end of it. However, with the ending of this film, you end up with another inkling telling you that it’s not quite over yet, so I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if another journey for these characters is in the works. Hopefully they’ll also take note of the straight to video advice. 2/4 stars.
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