Title: Ice Age: Continental Drift
Director: Steve Martino and Mark Thurmeier
Considering it’s the fourth installment in a franchise that is basically a one-trick pony, Ice Age: Continental Drift is a leisurely 94 minute watch.
You kind of just go with it, even though the atmosphere (animation) is fairly the same, despite the 3D, and the characters are put in similar situations as seen in their past adventures. So the obvious tactic, in keeping things mildly fresh, is to inject new characters into the mix and be sure the written dialogue is sharp and playful. Therefore, all audiences will not wander off.
This time around, the world is still changing. Most of the icy planet has melted away and the land masses (continents) are really sliding around. And all the animals have the insanely focused saber-toothed squirrel Scrat to thank for that. His latest never-ending acorn-chasing saga has set in motion a massive restructuring of the realm they know. While this is happening, Manny (a mammoth voiced by Ray Romano), Diego (a fearless saber-tooth tiger voiced by Denis Leary), and the aloof sloth, Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) end up on a tiny ice-berg that is floating away from their family and friends (characters from the previous flicks).
Stranded out in the middle of the vast ocean, the three struggle to find a way to float back to the continent. And to make matters worse, they end up crossing paths with a band of pirates; led by a heartless, yet charismatic, ape by the name of Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage). Manny realizes that the only way to have a shot at making it back home is to outwit the ruthless Captain, and his dim-witted crew, and commandeer his ice glacier vessel.
They keep it simplistic for the younger audience as this one definitely caters to them. Pacing-wise, this sails by and there’s always some sort of action on the screen. Whether it would be swashbuckling – animal style, or seeing Manny’s mammoth wife, Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah) leading the variety-pack herd to safety as the ever-moving mountains force them to leave dodge, there’s a steady flow of “animated” elements occurring. This will surely keep the kiddies wired to this as the screenplay does allow for all the quirky characters a decent amount of screen time to induce smiles on their faces.
For the older crowd, the addition of Sid’s Granny (voiced energetically by comedian Wanda Sykes) – to engage in banter with the incumbent lead trio – provides a refreshing angle that executes a few jokes which balance out the familiar physical humor. Still, the novelty is starting to wear off and the ideas/bits have a vanilla taste to them after taking in three stories for the last ten years. And that’s with the screenplay trying to emulate sequences from memorable epic adventure pieces from cinema’s past.
The entire voice cast is game and delivers in a serviceable manner, but the commitment level of the writing seems more like, “Let’s do another Ice Age so we can snag another $200 million at the domestic box office.” When they really should have been saying, “Is there a way we can evolve this and keep all the elements that enabled us success to even discuss a fourth venture?”
Overall, Ice Age: Continental Drift is a harmless piece of light entertainment. Certain aspects of this give-off that going-through-the-motions vibe, but the tactical insertion of new characters will keep you casually involved in what’s happening…even though it’s the same old story, same old song and dance. And just not as laugh-out-loud-ish as its predecessors.
Acting (voice): C+