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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 13 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 28
Fourth Ice Age saga is frozenly mundane
Arts & Entertainment
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Fourth Ice Age saga is frozenly mundane

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT
Opens July 13


Remember how the original Star Trek movies suffered from the 'even-odd' curse? You know, the idea that all the even-numbered ones - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, were good, while all the odd-numbered films were horrible? Of course, that meme overlooked Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which was pretty decent. But because treks II, IV, and VI were so wonderful, the others suffered by comparison.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I think we can make the case that where the Ice Age series is concerned, we have the exact opposite situation compared to Star Trek. I know, I know, these are different films, different series, having nothing to do with each other thematically, narratively, or structurally. But that doesn't make the premise any less relevant. While Ice Age and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs are pretty darn decent, the middle film, Ice Age: The Meltdown, is forgettable, and while all three were financially successful, I know few who think highly of that second chapter.

The same will likely be thought of the series' latest entry, Ice Age: Continental Drift. Sure, the animation is amazing, but in this day and age one wonders how it couldn't be, and yes, there are still moments, most of them unsurprisingly revolving around the put-upon half-rat, half-squirrel Scrat, but overall this latest prehistoric kid-friendly adventure is a gigantic drag. The story is tired, the characters don't charm nearly as much as they used to, and the whole thing feels uninspired and thrown together in a way that's oddly unappealing. In short, the fourth time isn't a charm, meaning we have an even-odd curse that's the flipside of the Star Trek one.

The basic scenario finds our primary heroes, mammoth Manny (Ray Romano), saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary), and sloth Sid (John Leguizamo), separated from the rest of their heard and literally out to sea when the Teutonic Plates shift and start making their peaceful valley uninhabitable. In the middle of the ocean, the group finds themselves taken captive by pirate ape Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) and his band of bloodthirsty shipmates. With time running out the trio must find a way to escape from this buccaneer's clutches, steal his ship, and return home, hopefully getting there before calamity befalls Manny's wife Ellie (Queen Latifah), daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer), and the rest of their herd, leaving them all as good as extinct.

In theory, this could be fine, the filmmakers coming up with a solid-enough family-friendly story that should please the series' legions of pint-sized fans. But none of it is connected, none of it feels complete, and the whole movie comes across as a series of disconnected ideas, never fleshed out or melded together. Subplots involving Peaches - her attempts to break away from her father's control and her friendship with prehistoric meerkat Louis (Josh Gad) - go nowhere, while a potentially cute one between Diego and his feline swashbuckling opposite Shira (Jennifer Lopez) starts out fine but quickly runs out of steam.

As vignettes some of this is amusing, most notably an out-of-left-field musical number sung by Dinklage and his crew, as well as a bizarre Braveheart reenactment (the less said about the better), and the sequences with Scrat still have a wickedly Chuck Jones-like charm that's undeniable. But on the whole, Ice Age: Continental Drift moves at a glacial pace. Here's hoping a sure-to-be-forthcoming fifth adventure keeps the up-and-down streak alive.

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