out of Five
Running time: 94
Watchable fourth instalment to the Ice Age franchise that doesn't have much of a plot and shows a blatant disregard for both science and history, but compensates with superb voice performances, colourful characters, passable 3D animation and a decent gag rate.
What's it all about?
Directed by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift is the fourth instalment in the popular animated franchise about the adventures of Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the Sabre-tooth Tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), with cutaways to whatever Scrat the scene-stealing Squirrel is up to. This time round, when Scrat's misadventures at the Earth's core (don't
ask) cause the ice shelf to suddenly crack in two, Manny, Sid, Diego and Sid's sassy toothless grandmother (Wanda Sykes) find themselves adrift on an ice floe and separated from Manny's wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and their rebellious daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer).
However, our furry heroes' problems don't end there, because they're soon captured by a sea-faring iceberg (again, don't ask) captained by pirate primate Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) and a scurvy crew that includes slinky white tiger Shira (Jennifer Lopez), dopey elephant seal Flynn (Nick Frost, no jokes about typecasting, please) and hyperactive first mate bunny Squint (Aziz Ansari). Meanwhile, Ellie and Peaches try to outrun the shifting continental plates and Scrat finds an ancient acorn-related treasure map.
The voice performances are excellent, with Dinklage, Frost and Ansari making particularly good new additions to the cast, while Wanda Sykes contributes a scene-stealing turn as Granny Sloth. However, as with all the previous Ice Age movies, the film still belongs to Scrat and his acorn-chasing shenanigans, which are used well here and provide the biggest laughs.
The animation is extremely good throughout and there are a couple of decent 3D moments, though not so many that the film won't play just as well in 2D. In addition, Martino and Thurmeier keep the action ticking along at a busy pace and the script has a surprisingly decent gag rate, thanks to having talented wise-crackers like Sykes, Leguizamo, Ansari and Frost on board. There's even a comedy song this time round.
The main problem with the Ice Age franchise in general is its stock-piling of headaches for anyone attempting to teach children about natural history, science, geology and so on. Would it kill them to put a few Science Facts as captions at the end?
As fourquels go, this is actually pretty good (and definitely better than the third film), thanks to a colourful voice cast, likeable characters and a decent gag rate. Responsible parents should probably go armed with picture-led geology/history books though.