There is a scene at the very end of the first Ice Age film that shows a creature known as Scrat emerging from a block of ice thousands of years after the events of the film. I’m going to assume something similar happened to the rest of the cast; that they were frozen in time throughout the entire ice age, explaining their presence in the worsening sequels which are all set in a time when Sid, Diego and Manfred would logically be long dead.
Even if this explanation was canon I would still question the existence of these sequels in general. Ice Age was a lovely film, but was it really so fantastic that it warranted another installment, let alone three? Apparently, because the next chapter, Continental Drift is now playing in theaters.
As per tradition, little Scrat’s storyline is what gets the film started. Still he tries to protect his little acorn from improbable mishaps and disasters which in one way or the ohter affects the main plot. In this one he sets in motion the Pangea break-up through what’s easily his most over-the-top prologue to date! The main plot focuses, as usual, on wolly mammoth Manfred (Ray Romano), sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) and sabertooth Diego (Denis Leary) as well as Manfred’s wife Ellie (Queen Latifah), opossum twins Eddie & Crash (Seann William Scott, Josh Peck) plus a newcomer, Manfred and Ellie’s daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). The plot itself, the family is seperated during a quake that just so happens to be the start of the forming of the continents, brought on by you-know-who.
Yes, these characters have lived to witness the start of an ice age, the end of an ice age, a bunch of dinosaurs who survived their own extinction and now the Pangea break-up. The life stories my grandfather insists on telling me got nothing on what Sid will presumably be telling to his moderately amused grandchildren.
Manfred, Sid and Diego are seperated from the others and eventually end up in the clutches of a pirate crew, lead by prehistoric monkey Gutt (Peter Dinklage), sailing the seas on a floating iceberg. They eventually escape however, bringing along another sabertooth named Shira (Jennifer Lopez). A romance subplot between her and Diego is inevitable but sort of pointless. Another extra member of Manfred’s crew is Sid’s senile granny named, well, Granny (Wanda Sykes). You know all those family members Sid mentioned in the first film but we never saw? Well, in this film we do. Sort of.
It provides lots of pirate-related adventure, spliced together with more slapstick from Scrat, a pointless Madagascar 2-esque love triangle between Peaches, another mammoth (Aubrey Drake Graham) and a damn mole (Josh Gad) and some comic relief bits involving Crash and Eddie, two of the more pointless characters, whom I honestly wish the third or even second film would’ve just killed off.
Watching all this slapstick, all these jokes and all this 3D action, I longed for the first Ice Age film and its subtle moments built entirely on silence and atmosphere. After all these sequels, how many people actually remember that the first installment was so genuinely powerful? That film had Sid as the only comic relief type character. At the time of Continental Drift, it feels like every other character is a comic relief, but especially the blissfully clumsy Sid and the idiotic brothers O’Possum. No, there’s no crazy-ass Simon Pegg-weasel this time. Ergo no fun!
The saving grace of Ice Age 4, like in all the sequels, is the lovable Scrat, even if his first scene in the film is almost a little too over-the-top and insane even for him. But he remains a lovely character who is granted the more inventive slapstick comedy, which is made all the better from the lack of obnoxious dialogue. Everything else in the film is loud, full of pop culture references and scattered with celebrity voices, which proves how dumbed down and “kiddified” the franchise has become. I guess I also enjoyed some of the action, the bad guy and this one pirate voiced by Nick Frost, but that’s about it.
Ice Age 4 – Continental Drift is irritating, over-crowded and unnecessary. Way too many characters, pointlessly many plotlines, needlessly exaggerated slapstick scenes, an uninspired story, only the occasional funny scene and a rushed pacing brought on by the combination of a short runtime and an enormous cast of characters. If you’re a die-hard fan of these films you’ll probably like this one okay, in which case I must also admire your patience.
Apparently one of the side characters was voiced by Nicki Minaj, which makes me appreciate the fact that I saw a half-assed Swedish dub a whole lot more.
EDIT: Oh wait, now I remember. The Pangea breakup actually took place millenia before the actual ice age. Screw what I said about being frozen in time. This is turning into an outright time travel-franchise!