A bit more underneath the surface: A Review of Ice Age: Continental Drift

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Rating: Two and a half out of four stars

I was not really anticipating seeing the new “Ice Age.” The first movie was an inspired and sweet little film that managed to appeal to the whole family. The sequels then told the adults to scram and just rehashed the first film with all the wit and heart cut out. So I am a little happy to say that while “Ice Age: Continental Drift” is not a great film, it was not nearly as painful as I expected.

After Scrat the squirrel causes the continents to break while chasing his acorn, Manny, Sid and Diego are separated from their group on a small chunk of ice in the middle of the ocean. There they meet pirates, bad stuff happens, etc. You know where the plot is going and thankfully the writers kept things light and fast paced to keep the filler to a minimum. That said, the subplot involving Manny’s daughter Peaches having a crush on another mammoth could have been shortened due to pointlessness.

The visuals are crisp and colorful, using a vivid canvas amidst all the blue of the water and ice. The character models are expressive and lively, particularly the main villain Captain Gutt, voiced by Peter Dinklage. The music hits all the right notes and has a welcomed “Looney Tunes” styled quality to it. There are even some funny jokes scattered throughout, mostly thanks to tighter focus in the directing and pacing of the plot. The Scrat bits are still the funniest parts, thanks to its Chuck Jones comedy. There is even a good short from “The Simpsons” before the movie.

That said, there are still lingering issues from the previous “Ice Age” sequels here. While there are some funny jokes, a good number of them fall flat from just being very lazy and amateur. There are too many characters to develop any form of solid story and the new character do not contribute much. The plot goes through almost all the same beats as the first two movies. There is a half-baked love interest put in for Diego because, well, because.

There are few complaints with the voice acting though, since everyone is trying their best. The three main stars are all voiced well by Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo. Peter Dinklage has an entertaining level of menace with his villain and it is fun to see Wanda Sykes as Sid’s cantankerous old grandmother. I could have done without the gratuitous casting of Nicki Minaj and Drake as Peaches’ mammoth crush and one of his friends respectively, since anyone could have done their parts.

This is a step up for the “Ice Age” movies, but the film just needs to narrow its focus and recapture the heart that made the first film such a surprise. Maybe they will for “Ice Age 5” since it is almost guaranteed to happen.

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