By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Victorville) The Ice Age franchise has been a crowd pleaser since 2002, as the world fell in love with the unlikely trio of a mammoth, saber tooth tiger and a sloth. Now four films deep, does the fourth entry hold on to the magic that made it a CGI icon, or has the flare for Ice Age become extinct?
Ice Age: Continental Drift puts the cast once again in the middle of turmoil. Back are Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), Diego the saber tooth tiger (Dennis Leary) and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), ready for another spontaneous adventure. This time, it’s all about the breaking of the land, and the distance it causes between families. The trio isn’t alone, as the focus shifts from the three and their new traveling companion Granny the Sloth (Wanda Sykes) to Manny’s wife Ellie (Queen Latifah), her daughter mammoth Peaches (Keke Palmer) and a whole new cast of new animals. Of course, what’s a story without a villain, and the simian Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) fills the shoes of the antagonist as he and his crew of pirates butt heads with our rag tag group of heroes as they try to get home.
Now, when you look at film from an animation standpoint, it is incredible. The textures, the expressions on the characters, they all shine brilliantly throughout the film. Sad to say, that’s where the positive aspects of the film stop. Granny the Sloth becomes very annoying very quickly, as do many of the new cast additions (the mole, the group of “hip” mammoths, the entire pirate crew). The story feels so predictable, it’s almost like we already saw the film in another Ice Age iteration. Yet, for me, the worst part was the lack of originality; so many clichés and pop culture references are used that I found myself rolling my eyes before the midpoint of the film. Upon ending, I felt nothing, as nothing seemed to have changed, and it truly felt like someone trying to use a generic formula to make an animated hit.
Before the film is a short film featuring Maggie of The Simpsons, which is very well done for being such a short film. I wish I could say the same for Ice Age, but I can’t, not on any level. “Jump the Shark” is a term used to describe TV series that have declined in quality so much that there is no return. I would like to create a new term: Jump the Shrek. Much like the beloved Shrek franchise, which dwindled as the series went on to the point that it was no longer the Shrek fans loved, Ice Age has went down the same road. Don’t be surprised if this is the last film in the series: instead, I’ll be surprised if another gets green lit.