Ice Age 4: Continental Drift * * 1/2

Genre: Animation

Directors: Steve Martino, Michael Thurmeier

Writers: Michael Berg, Jason Fuchs

Voice Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifa, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Wanda Sykes

Running Length: 85 minutes

Synopsis: The trio from the previous Ice Age movies returns – Manny the wooly mammoth, Diego the sabretooth tiger, and Sid the sloth – embark upon their greatest adventure after cataclysm sets an entire continent adrift. Separated from the rest of the herd, they use an iceberg as a makeshift ship, which launches them on an epic seafaring quest. Manny and the gang are challenged like never before to become heroes and do the impossible, as they encounter exotic sea creatures, explore a brave new world, and battle ruthless pirates. And Scrat’s reunion with his cursed nut catapults him to places no prehistoric squirrel has gone before.

Review: There really isn’t much reason for this movie to exist, and it shows – although Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is superficially entertaining with a plethora of funny and cute animals, the plot is virtually nonexistent and the social message feels tacked on. It has been a decade since the first Ice Age, and yet the franchise does not seem to have improved with time, with a large part of the film feeling like nothing more than a rehash.

The entire concept that Ice Age 4 revolves around also feels like an uneasy marriage – having the main characters duke it out on a newly formed ocean on “ships” made from icebergs feels almost too human for a bunch of creatures in the Ice Age. The additional subplot involving Manny the wooly mammoth’s rebellious teenaged daughter is even more uninteresting, and the way it plays out and resolves itself is very perfunctory.  

Credit to be given where it’s due though, Ice Age 4 looks great (like almost every computer animated film these days), and the usage of 3D is rather impressive, especially for younger audiences. Scrat, the iconic squirrel chasing after his acorn, is still as entertaining as ever, providing much needed diversion from the clunky main plots. Many of the new characters are actually more interesting than the original Ice Age gang, with the most memorable being Sid the sloth’s grandmother, wonderfully realized by Wanda Sykes.

Special mention must be given, however, to the best part of the show, which actually occurs before the start of Ice Age 4. Do not miss out on the excellent short film The Longest Daycare, starring Maggie of The Simpsons – the four and a half minute short is brilliant, packing more creativity, wit and heart than the entire movie that follows. For Simpsons fans like me, this short film alone is worth the price of admission.

Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)

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